US Bishops: Senate Bill Still Unacceptable

Send Last-Minute Letter on Health Care Reform

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WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 20, 2009 ( Despite last-minute efforts to improve the language on abortion and conscience rights in the Senate’s proposed health care reform bill, the U.S. bishops oppose its passage.

This was affirmed in a statement released Saturday by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the conference’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities; Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the bishops’ Committee on Migration; and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, New York, chair of the Domestic Policy Committee.

The prelates acknowledge the «good faith» efforts of several Senators in proposing changes to the bill, as well as several positive points of the Manager’s Amendment that was proposed Saturday.

While praising adoption tax credits and assistance for pregnant women, the letter laments that the current legislation «does not seem to allow purchasers who exercise freedom of choice or of conscience to ‘opt out’ of abortion coverage in federally subsidized health plans that include such coverage.»

«While we appreciate the good-faith efforts made,» the letter continues, «our judgment is the same as it was yesterday: This legislation should not move forward in its current form.

«It should be opposed unless and until such serious concerns have been addressed.»

In a separate letter issued Friday, Cardinal DiNardo reaffirmed the position of the episcopal conference that «the legislation will be morally unacceptable ‘unless and until’ it complies with longstanding current laws on abortion funding such as the Hyde amendment.»The cardinal concluded by affirming that the bishops will «continue to work for health care reform which truly protects the life, dignity, conscience and health of all.»

«As the bishops have said many times,» he continued, «providing affordable and accessible health care that clearly reflects these fundamental principles is a public good, moral imperative and urgent national priority.»

A final vote on the bill in the Senate is expected this week.

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On the Net:

A searchable online version of the bill is available here (including the Manager’s Amendment):

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