Prelates Take Stand on Health Care Reform

Express Concern About Abortion Funding

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WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 30, 2009 ( The U.S. bishops have sent out bulletin inserts to almost 19,000 parishes this week in a move to fight against the inclusion of abortion funding in health care reform.

«Tell Congress: Remove Abortion Funding and Mandates From Needed Health Care Reform,» the headline reads. The strongly worded flyer not only encourages Catholics to contact their representatives, but warns that the bishops will oppose health care reform if their concerns are not addressed.

The bulletin explains that U.S. legislation has for years prevented federal funding of elective abortions, but that the health care reform bills currently being debated in Congress violate these policies.

«Genuine health care reform should protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of conception until natural death,» the bishops note, adding that the conference finds «that all committee-approved bills are seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience, and do not provide adequate access to health care for immigrants and the poor.»

«The bills will have to change or the bishops have pledged to oppose them,» the flyer adds.

It also urges the faithful to contact Senate leaders to voice support of efforts to «incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights» in health reform legislation.

The bishops express support for the Stupak Amendment from Democrat Representative Bart Stupak of Michigan that «addresses essential pro-life concerns on abortion funding and conscience rights.»

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the bishops’ conference; Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-life Activities; Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the Committee on Migration; and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, are encouraging fellow bishops to promote this campaign in their dioceses.

«The bishops want health care reform, but they recoil at any expansion of abortion,» said Helen Osman, secretary for Communications of the bishops’ conference. «Most Americans don’t want to pay for other people’s abortions via health care either.

«This impasse on the road to reform of health care can be broken if Congress writes in language that assures that the Hyde Amendment law continues to guide U.S. federal spending policy.»

The bishops have expressed their support for health care reform that is universal, respects of human life and dignity, accessible for all — especially for the poor and immigrants — and that protects the freedom of conscience.

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