Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan says the use of federal money for abortion remains a “grave concern.” He has argued that abortion funding is a threat to universal health care because it excludes unborn children from its scope.
Writing in a Monday post at his blog “The Gospel in the Digital Age,” Archbishop Dolan noted the “tough spot” of those who are enthusiastic about universal health care.
“The bishops have been advocating universal health care for nearly a century. So, we sure want to see it work, and appreciate the efforts of the president and both parties in Congress to bring it home.”
“On the other hand, we’re worried. Health care, we insist, has to be truly universal. That means everybody – the baby in the womb, his or her mother, the poor, the immigrant, and our elders until natural death.”
While there is “much to cheer” about in the proposed health care bill, such as a provision for expectant mothers, the “grave concern” is that the public’s money will be used for abortions.
The archbishop said the Hyde Amendment, which restricts abortion funding, must be present in any health care bill or health care will not be universal “at all.”
President Obama’s guarantee that no abortion funding would be present in the bill was a relief to the bishops, Archbishop Dolan reported, while the Stupak Amendment assured that the status quo on abortion would not be tampered with.
“But – and here’s the alarm – the Senate bill has been gutted of such a guarantee. We’re worried, because a cause we very much welcome has become ominous, and could be unacceptable.”
According to Archbishop Dolan, the U.S. bishops’ analysis, made in consultation with partners from other faiths and with an array of health providers, says that the Senate version of the health care bill does not reflect the provisions of the Hyde Amendment.
Those who claim the Hyde protections apply to the Senate bill should not mind making “explicit mention of it,” the archbishop continued.
“All we ask is that the bill be consistent with the president’s assurances, that the abortion license will not be extended, and that the decades-long protection of the Hyde Amendment continue.”
“We’re not the obstructionists here,” commented the archbishop, who said the bishops are only insisting upon a ban on taxpayer funding for abortions in place since 1975.
He charged that some have opened a “loophole” to eliminate the Hyde Amendment, thus risking the passage of health care reform.
“Just say straight-out that the Hyde amendment is still in place,” Archbishop Dolan’s blog post concluded. “That keeps health care universal.”
On Monday afternoon, the president of the U.S. Bishops' Conference announced that the Catholic bishops are opposing the Senate health care bill.