On Monday Dec. 7, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) gave its support to an amendment to the health care bill that would prevent federally funded abortions. The bishops' backing was made known in a letter sent to all U.S. Senators.
“We urgently ask you to support an essential amendment to be offered by Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Robert Casey (D-PA) to keep in place the longstanding and widely supported federal policy against government funding of health coverage that includes elective abortions,” the letter says.
The Senate is scheduled to vote today on the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment which contains language similar to the House's Stupak-Pitts amendment and prevents U.S. taxpayer dollars from funding health care plans that cover abortions.
In addition, the USCCB faults the Senate legislation for not protecting health care providers' consciences, stating that the bill as it stands “does not maintain essential nondiscrimination protections for providers who decline involvement in abortion. The Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment simply corrects these grave departures from current federal policy.”
The letter to all senators is dated December 7 and is signed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Bishops William Murphy and John Wester.
The Nelson-Hatch-Casey Amendment needs 60 votes in the 100-member Senate in order to pass.