Members of Congress are being urged to maintain pro-life provisions in appropriations bills in a recent letter from Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia and chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities.
“I urge you not to use this legislation to weaken or rescind longstanding provisions that protect U.S. taxpayers from being forced to fund and promote the destruction of innocent human life," Cardinal Rigali said, speaking on behalf of the Committee in his Feb. 5 letter.
He said he is joined by “millions of Catholics and others” who are sending to their representatives postcards bearing the message “Please oppose FOCA [the 'Freedom of Choice Act'] or any similar measure, and retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.”
“While an extreme proposal like FOCA would overturn hundreds of pro-life laws at once, we are equally concerned that such laws may be overturned one at a time during Congress's appropriations process," the cardinal noted.
Cardinal Rigali’s letter highlighted pro-life prohibitions such as: the Hyde Amendment and similar measures which prohibit taxpayer funding for abortions; the Dickey/Wicker Amendment barring federal funding for research in which human embryos are created, harmed and destroyed; and the Kemp-Kasten Amendment preventing U.S. funding of organizations that support or help manage programs involving coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.
“In a society that wants to reduce abortions, it makes no sense for government to force its citizens to fund and promote abortion,” he wrote.
The conscience protections provided in the Hyde Weldon Amendment to prevent discrimination against pro-life heath care providers are also of concern to the bishops and other pro-lifers.
“Clearly 'choice' is an empty slogan if physicians, nurses and hospitals must 'choose' to provide abortions or be forced out of the health care field,” the cardinal said.
Cardinal Rigali closed his letter by arguing that these laws and similar ones have been in effect for many years “no matter which party controlled Congress or the White House” because “they are modest, common-sense policies that are widely supported even among people who disagree on the legal status of abortion.”