.- Auxiliary Bishop of Denver James D. Conley has said that the health care reform proposal currently advancing in Congress is âfatally flawedâ because Congress has ignored or rejected âserious concernsâ about federal funding for abortion, broad access to health care and financial sustainability.
The proposed health care reform is not only âinadequate and bafflingâ but âinsulting and dangerous,â Bishop Conley wrote in an essay posted Friday on the website of the journal First Things.
In the Churchâs view, he said, access to basic health care is âa right and a social responsibility, not a privilege.â The U.S. bishopsâ conference has strived âso diligentlyâ to work with Congress and the White House in seeking compromise legislation, he reported.
âAs of Nov. 5, all those efforts have failed,â he wrote.
With the exception of a few leaders like Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), Congress has either ignored or rejected the bishopsâ concerns or has brought forward proposals like the Capps Amendment. In the bishopâs view, these proposals do not solve the issues and even create new ones.
âThe White House has done nothing to intervene. âCommon groundâ thinking in Washington apparently has more reality as public relations than as public policy. And as a result, all of the main healthcare reform proposals in Congress, including the huge, 2,000-page merged House bill, are fatally flawed.â
He said the proposals need to be opposed and defeated unless they are âimmediately and adequatelyâ amended.
Bishop Conley outlined the priorities of the bishops, first saying that everyone should have access to basic health care, including immigrants. At minimum, this access should include immigrants in the United States legally.
He also urged that health reform respects the dignity of every person, âfrom conception to natural death.â
âThis means that the elderly and persons with disabilities must be treated with special care and sensitivity,â he remarked.
âIt also means that abortion and abortion funding should be excluded from any reform plan, no matter how adroitly the abortion funding is masked. Whatever one thinks about its legality, abortion has nothing to do with advancing human âhealth,â and a large number of Americans regard it as a gravely wrong act of violence, not only against unborn children but also against women,â the bishop added.
Bishop Conley said âexplicit, ironcladâ conscience protections are needed for medical professionals and institutions so that they cannot be forced to violate their convictions.
Finally, he explained, any reform must be âeconomically realisticâ and sustainable.
âThatâs a moral issue, not simply a practical one,â he added.
Most American Catholics want health care reform to work, but âtoo many people in Washington donât know how to listen, or donât want to listen, or just donât care,â Bishop Conleyâs essay concluded.