Today the U.S. bishops sent a letter, signed by Cardinal Justin Rigali, to the House of Representatives urging members to vote for the Stupak-Ellsworth Amendment to the health care reform.
The letter, made available by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) asked congress members to vote for the Stupak-Ellsworth Amendment to "keep in place current federal law on abortion funding and conscience protections in the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962)."
"Despite some claims to the contrary," they wrote, "H.R. 3962 does not reflect the status quo on abortion. It fails to explicitly and clearly include the longstanding policy prohibiting federal funding of elective abortion and plans which include elective abortion (Hyde Amendment)."
The bishops acknowledged that H.R. 3962 "has some helpful provisions on conscience protection and non- preemption of state laws," however it "fails to maintain current prohibitions on abortion mandates and abortion funding. Instead it creates elaborate measures requiring people to pay for other people’s abortions with their taxes, private premiums or federal subsidies."
They continued, "Additionally, H.R. 3962 allows the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to mandate that the ‘public option’ will include unlimited abortions. Millions of purchasers will be forced to pay an ‘abortion surcharge,’ which requires purchasers of many plans to pay directly and explicitly for abortion coverage. This is unprecedented in federal law."
"The Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Lipinski-Smith Amendment will not affect coverage of abortion in non-subsidized health plans, and will not bar anyone from purchasing a supplemental abortion policy with their own funds," explain the bishops nothing that currently, the bill doesn’t meet Obama’s "commitment of barring use of federal dollars for abortion and maintaining current conscience laws."
The bishops concluded stating that they have been working "for many years" in order to "support health care reform legislation that truly protects the life, dignity, health and consciences of all."
"Adopting this amendment will help move us move toward this essential national priority and moral imperative."