US Bishops Back Measure to Bar Tax-Funded Abortion

Senate Vote Expected on Tuesday

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WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 7, 2009 ( The U.S. bishops are backing an amendment to keep abortion out of health care reform and are asking voters to urge their Senators to support the measure.

The bishops wrote Congress today in support of an amendment proposed by Senators Ben Nelson, Orrin Hatch and Robert Casey, which would prevent the health reform bill from using federal funds to pay for health plans that include elective abortions. They sent along two fact sheets explaining how the current bill supports abortion and how the amendment would stop that.

A similar measure was passed in the House of Representatives, paving the way for the passage there of the “Affordable Health Care for America Act.”

The bishops are urging voters to contact their Senators and express support for the amendment, and in fact, the bishops’ Web site offers a user-friendly e-mail system to put constituents in touch with their Senators.

“This amendment will have the same effect as the Stupak-Smith-Ellsworth-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Pitts Amendment already accepted in the House by an overwhelming bipartisan majority,” the bishops’ letter said. “Like that amendment, it does not change the current situation in our country: Abortion is legal and available, but no federal dollars can be used to pay for elective abortions or plans that include elective abortions. This amendment does not restrict abortion, or prevent people from buying insurance covering abortion with their own funds. It simply ensures that where federal funds are involved, people are not required to pay for other people’s abortions.”

The bishops note that without the amendment, the Senate bill fails to keep tax dollars from funding abortions.

“Sadly, the current Senate bill fails to keep in place the longstanding federal policy against the use of federal funds for elective abortions or health plans that include elective abortions — a policy upheld in all health programs covered by the Hyde Amendment, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program — and now in the House-passed ‘Affordable Health Care for America Act,'” they explained. “We believe legislation that violates this moral principle is not true health care reform and must be amended to reflect the Hyde restrictions. If that fails, the current legislation should be opposed.”

One of the sponsors of the bill, Senator Nelson of Nebraska, noted that the amendment is a reflection of Americans’ desires to restrict abortion.

“Most Nebraskans, and Americans, do not favor using public funds to cover abortion,” he said in a statement on his Web page, “and as a result this bill shouldn’t open the door to do so.”

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On the Net:

Bishops’ link to contact senators:

Full text of bishops’ letter:

Fact sheet on the Senate bill:

Fact sheet on the amendment:

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