WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPT. 27, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A U.S. bishops’ spokesman praised the House of Representatives for approving a bill that would let hospitals and insurance firms refuse to perform or pay for abortions without risking their federal funding.
The House on Wednesday voted 229-to-189 for the legislation, which faces a tougher test in the Senate.
“This modest but urgently needed legislation reaffirms that no health care provider should be forced to participate in abortion against his or her will,” said Richard M. Doerflinger, deputy director of the bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities.
Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, chairman of the bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, had written to all House members urging approval of the bill, which clarifies the scope of a 1996 nondiscrimination statute approved by Congress.
“The current law protects ‘health care entities,’ including medical residency programs, from being forced by government bodies to provide abortions or abortion training,” wrote Cardinal Bevilacqua.
“The new bill makes it clear that this protection extends to the full range of health care entities, including hospitals and individual health professionals other than physicians,” he added. “It also applies this protection to entities being told they must pay for abortions against their will.”
Meanwhile, the Bush administration said it would classify fetuses as unborn children as a means of extending prenatal care to low-income pregnant women, the Associated Press reported. The change allows states to extend health insurance even to embryos, by enrolling them in the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the news service said.