.- A statement issued this morning by the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Cardinal Francis George, said that the bishops “deplore” yesterday's Senate vote to bypass a pro-life amendment which would have prevented federal funding of abortions.
“The Senate vote to table the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment is a grave mistake and a serious blow to genuine health care reform,” said Cardinal George.
Moreover, the cardinal underscored that “the Senate is ignoring the promise made by President Obama and the will of the American people in failing to incorporate longstanding prohibitions on federal funding for abortion and plans that include abortion.”
On Dec. 7, a letter from the USCCB signed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Bishops John Wester and William Murphy urged the Senate to support the pro-life amendment and “keep in place the longstanding and widely supported federal policy” against federally funded abortions.
In response to yesterday's Senate vote, Cardinal DiNardo commented in the same USCCB statement, “Congress needs to separate facts and truth from political rhetoric on abortion funding” and that “the Senate should not approve this bill in its current form.”
Bishop Wester added his voice to his brother bishops', saying, “health care must protect, not threaten, human life and dignity; respect not violate, consciences of providers, taxpayers and others.”
The USCCB statement also quoted Bishop Murphy who remarked that “Congress needs to retain existing abortion funding restrictions and safeguard conscience protections because the nation urgently needs health care reform that protects the life, dignity, conscience and health of all.”
Cardinal George concluded the statement by saying that “while we deplore the Senate's refusal to adopt the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment, we remain hopeful that the protections overwhelmingly passed by the House will be incorporated into needed reform legislation.”
“Failure to exclude abortion funding will turn allies into adversaries and require us and others to oppose this bill because it abandons both principle and precedent,” the cardinal insisted.