With House and Senate leaders meeting behind closed doors to forge a health care overhaul bill, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has reactivated its grassroots campaign to encourage Catholics nationwide to tell lawmakers they oppose federal funding of abortion.
Bulletin inserts, a prayer campaign and pulpit announcements are all part of the effort to help ensure that the final version of the health care reform bill sent to President Obama will include Hyde amendment protections explicitly preventing the use of federal money in promoting, performing, or paying for abortions.
The bulletin insert, distributed to over 19,000 parishes, notes that the House health care bill, passed on November 7, 2009, “reaffirms the essential, longstanding and widely supported policy against using federal funds for elective abortions and includes positive measures on affordability and immigrants.”
However, the insert stresses, the Senate version of the bill “requires federal funds to help subsidize and promote health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions through a separate payment solely to pay for abortion.”
“Outside the abortion context, neither bill has adequate conscience protection for health care providers, plans or employers,” it adds.
The insert summarizes the current legislative process by saying, “These two bills must now be combined into one bill that both the House and Senate will vote on in final form. Provisions against abortion funding and in favor of conscience protection, affordability, and immigrants’ access to health care must be part of a fair and just health care reform bill, or the final bill must be opposed.”
Commenting on the health care situation, Kathy Saile, Director of Domestic Social Development for the USCCB, said in a video statement, “Health care is a human right. And heath care reform is a moral imperative and a national priority.”
“Elements in the proposed bills do a great deal of good… But this reform has been sadly politicized by efforts to expand funding for abortion,” Saile remarked.
“The goals of the bishops are modest. They are not trying to advance an agenda. But rather they seek to keep in place the long-standing policies of no federal funding of abortion,” Saile said.
Noting that the health care reform package is expected to come to a vote this month, the Catholic bishops are urging the faithful to contact their Representatives and Senators.