Health care bill could force people to pay for abortion, bishops’ spokeswoman says

USCCB spokeswoman Sr. Mary Ann Walsh.
USCCB spokeswoman Sr. Mary Ann Walsh.

.- Lacking strict rules on abortion funding, the Senate health care bill will allow subsidized insurance companies to force people to pay for “morally repulsive” abortion services, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. bishops, has charged. She added that the health care bill currently under consideration would limit health plan options for those who want a plan that does not cover abortions.

“That could happen under the Senate bill, if your child has asthma and the best specialist is not in the one health plan in your state that excludes abortion services. To get your child to that specialist, you'd have to ante up for the abortion fund in the plan,” Sr. Walsh said in a March 17 column for the Washington Post’s “On Faith” section.

She accused the Senate legislation of “shying away” from the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the use of federal money to pay for elective abortions and for health care plans that include the procedures.

While the U.S. House version of the bill incorporated Hyde language which helped ensure passage of the bill, the Senate version did not.

“Why would any member of Congress want to use health care reform to promote elective abortion?” asked Sr. Walsh. “And why has the Senate designed a system that lets insurance companies force people to pay for abortion services they do not want and find morally repulsive - and gives federal subsidies to those companies to help them do it?”

“Those who insist on expanding abortion rights through health care legislation are willing to sink health care reform and with it the hopes of desperate people,” she continued, charging that abortion proponents want to expand abortion “as far as possible regardless of consequences.”

According to Sr. Walsh, such policies are promoted by Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women (NOW). She quoted NOW president Terry O’Neill as saying “We will never stop fighting for the right of every woman to have equal access to the full range of reproductive health care, including abortion.”

This position, Sr. Walsh noted, “does not benefit women at their earliest stage of life.”

She rejected efforts to “blame the Church” for the impasse over health care reform, denying claims that the U.S. bishops have threatened to “bring down the health care bill.”

“What the bishops have said is that for health care reform they would live with the status quo, where the government does not pay for abortions or abortion-containing health plans, but people who want abortion coverage can purchase it with other funds.”

“The Hyde Amendment has been satisfactory for America for almost 35 years. Why not incorporate it into health care reform legislation now?” she wrote in the Washington Post.

“The Hyde Amendment saves taxpayers from the ignominy of seeing their tax money used to end innocent lives. A wise leadership would adopt Hyde in a minute, and move on to creating a reformed health care plan with an abortion position people already have shown they can live with.”


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