Citing “serious flaws” in the health care bill Bishop Thomas G. Wenski has advocated a genuine reform that protects human life from conception to death. He urged Congress to correct the lack of conscience protections and the possible expansion of abortion coverage in the legislation before the Congressional reconciliation process.
The Bishop of Orlando, Florida, writing in March 10 column for the Orlando Sentinel, said that the U.S. bishops have been involved in health care reform for more than 40 years and believe such care is a basic human right.
While almost everyone agrees about the need to fix health care in the U.S., he commented, “no health care legislation is better than bad health care legislation.”
“We fear that the reconciliation process will give us bad legislation,” Bishop Wenski continued. “Any genuine health-care reform must protect human life and dignity from conception to natural death.”
In his view, advocates of using the reconciliation process to pass the Senate health care bill have “opened the door to an expansion of abortion coverage” by refusing to incorporate conscience protection language given to individuals and institutions by the Church, Hyde and Weldon Amendments.
Taxpayer funding for abortion is also a violation of conscience because it makes citizens complicit in “a morally heinous act.”
“The lack of conscience protections in proposed health-care legislation — like recent attempts at redefining the traditional understanding of marriage — undermines the religious freedom that has been part of the history of this country for more than two centuries,” the bishop wrote. “Religious freedom is at the foundation of all other freedoms.”
He called for these “deep moral flaws” to be corrected by Congress before reconciliation is attempted.
“Congress must not dismantle a social order that respects religious freedom and recognizes that government should never stand between the consciences and the religious practice of its citizens and Almighty God,” the bishop’s Orlando Sentinel piece concluded.
“If congressional reconciliation gives us expanded abortion coverage and eliminates conscience protection, the results will not be a healthier nation but one more divided and less reconciled than it had been before this debate began.”