.- Tom Grenchik, director of the U.S. bishopsâ Pro-Life Secretariat, has said that mandated abortion health care coverage and funding is âa line we can never cross,â 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. bishopsâ 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.
âBut one thing is certain,â he emphasized. âThe 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.â
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 Murphyâs July 17 comments to Congress, in which the chairman of the U.S. bishopsâ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Rights said the bishops looked forward to working with congressional leaders to reform health care âin 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.â
Bishop Murphy added: âno 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.â
Cardinal Justin Rigali, Chairman of the U.S. bishopsâ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, in a July 29 letter to the U.S. Houseâs Energy and Commerce Committee, declared that âmuch-needed reform must not become a vehicle for promoting an âabortion rightsâ agendaâ or for reversing âlongstandingâ policies against federal abortion mandates.
Grenchik also highlighted a postcard campaign in which millions of American Catholics sent postcards asking Congress to âretain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.â He said that Congressmen need to be reminded of this message âat the local level.â
âSupport genuine health care reform that respects the life and dignity of all,â he urged. âA 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.â
âNow is the time to take action,â 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 Bishopsâ 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.