The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is calling on Catholics nationwide “to prevent healthcare reform from being derailed by the abortion lobby,” the conference said on Friday. The unprecedented campaign encompasses 19,000 parishes across the country, and asks the faithful to fight for restrictions on abortion funding in the health care bills by contacting their congressmen.
Because the USCCB has championed the cause of health care reform for over a decade, their current effort is extraordinary.
“The bishops want health care reform, but they recoil at any expansion of abortion,” explained Helen Osman, USCCB Secretary for Communications.
The bishops, who described the mobilization of parishes as “a make or break effort,” have already told Congress in a letter, “If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously.”
While the grassroots effort does not appear to have risen to the level of outright opposition, the bishops also reiterated in their bulletin insert that “our nation is at a crossroads. Policies adopted in health care reform will have an impact for good or ill for years to come.”
The time line for influencing members of Congress appears to be short, with a vote on the bill expected in early November.
The Catholic bishops are also pushing for affordability, access to health care for legal immigrants and the protection of consciences.
“Genuine health care reform is much needed and should protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of conception until natural death. Mandated coverage for abortion should be excluded and longstanding policies against abortion funding and supporting conscience rights should be included. No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion,” they said, reiterating that no current bill meets these criteria.