Mandated abortion coverage threatens health care reform, U.S. bishops’ official says

Tom Grenchik, Executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat
Tom Grenchik, Executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat

.- Tom Grenchik, director of the U.S. bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat, has said that mandated abortion health care coverage and funding is “a line we can never cross,” charging that some U.S. leaders are threatening health care reform by forcing Americans to accept such mandates in proposed reform bills.

Writing in a Friday column on the U.S. bishops’ web site, Grenchik said that health care proposals need to be examined during the congressional recess to see how well they provide affordable quality health care and how they impact immigrants and the poor.

“But one thing is certain,” he emphasized. “The bills approved so far by House and Senate committees include mandated abortion coverage and abortion funding, and that is a line we can never cross.”

He also noted that amendments to exclude abortion from health care legislation have been defeated.

Reporting that abortion was not specifically mentioned in draft health care bills until recently, he recalled that Medicaid also did not mention abortion but nonetheless funded 300,000 abortions per year in the 1970s until the Hyde Amendment forbade such funding.

Grenchik quoted Bishop of Rockville Centre William Murphy’s July 17 comments to Congress, in which the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Rights said the bishops looked forward to working with congressional leaders to reform health care “in a manner that offers accessible, affordable and quality health care that protects and respects the life and dignity of all people from conception until natural death.”

Bishop Murphy added: “no health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion.”

Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, in a July 29 letter to the U.S. House’s Energy and Commerce Committee, declared that “much-needed reform must not become a vehicle for promoting an ‘abortion rights’ agenda” or for reversing “longstanding” policies against federal abortion mandates.

Grenchik also highlighted a postcard campaign in which millions of American Catholics sent postcards asking Congress to “retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.” He said that Congressmen need to be reminded of this message “at the local level.”

“Support genuine health care reform that respects the life and dignity of all,” he urged. “A fair and just health care reform bill must exclude mandated coverage for abortion, and uphold longstanding laws that restrict abortion funding and protect conscience rights.”

“Now is the time to take action,” Grenchik said, urging congressional members be contacted through e-mail, phone or fax. He also encouraged pro-lifers to attend local town hall meetings.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat has created a Health Care Reform Action Alert with more information and an e-mail form at http://www.usccb.org/prolife.

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