In a final, urgent plea to prevent the passage of the current form of the Senate health care bill, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) on Saturday evening sent a letter to Congressmen asking them to vote “no.”
“For decades,” the letter says, “the United States Catholic bishops have supported universal health care. The Catholic Church teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential for human life and dignity.”
" . . . First, the bishops argue that health care reform “must protect life and conscience, not threaten them." The Senate bill "extends abortion coverage, allows federal funds to pay for elective abortions (for example, through a new appropriation for services at Community Health Centers that bypasses the Hyde amendment), and denies adequate conscience protection to individuals and institutions."
"Simply put," the letter to Representatives continues, "health care reform ought to continue to apply both parts of the Hyde amendment, no more and no less."
The bishops also argue that, despite claims to the contrary, "the status quo prohibits the federal government from funding or facilitating plans that include elective abortion. The Senate bill clearly violates this prohibition by providing subsidies to purchase such plans."
"While the Senate provides for one plan without abortion coverage in each exchange, those who select another plan in an exchange to better meet the special needs of their families will be required to pay a separate mandatory abortion fee into a fund exclusively for abortions. This new federal requirement is a far more direct imposition on the consciences of those who do not wish to pay for the destruction of unborn human life than anything currently in federal law."
" . . . The bishops regret that the House leadership is “ignoring the pleas of pro-life members for essential changes in the legislation.”
“Apparently they will not even try to address the serious problems on abortion funding, conscience protection and fair treatment of immigrants."
"We are bishops, not politicians, policy experts or legislative tacticians. We are also pastors, teachers, and citizens. At this point of decision, we cannot compromise on basic moral principles. We can only urge -- and hope and pray -- that the House of Representatives will still find the will and the means to adopt health care reform that protects the life, dignity, conscience and health of all.
“The legislation the House adopted, while not perfect, came closer to meeting these criteria. The Senate legislation simply does not meet them," the bishops say.
"With deep regret, but clear in our moral judgment, we are compelled to continue to urge House members to oppose the Senate bill unless these fundamental flaws are remedied. At this critical moment, we urge Representatives to take the steps necessary to ensure that health care reform respects the life and dignity of all, from conception to natural death," the letter concludes."
Saturday, March 20, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
The American people and the Catholic bishops have been promised that, in any final bill, no federal funds would be used for abortion and that the legal status quo would be respected.
However, the bishops were left disappointed and puzzled to learn that the basis for any vote on health care will be the Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve. Notwithstanding the denials and explanations of its supporters, and unlike the bill approved by the House of Representatives in November, the Senate bill deliberately excludes the language of the Hyde amendment. It expands federal funding and the role of the federal government in the provision of abortion procedures. In so doing, it forces all of us to become involved in an act that profoundly violates the conscience of many, the deliberate destruction of unwanted members of the human family still waiting to be born.
TAPPER: You're a observant Catholic.
TAPPER: And there's a big debate right now within the Catholic Church about this bill, and a lot of these last few members that you're trying to get are Catholic democrats who oppose abortion. And I'm wondering, first of all, how you can side with nuns over bishops?
BIDEN: That's easy. I love the nuns.