Published in Cumberland Times-News Thursday, November 5.
“None of the bills retains longstanding current policies against abortion funding or abortion coverage mandates (the Hyde Amendment of 1976), and none fully protects conscience rights in health care.” – U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Oct. 29, 2009
As Congress prepares to debate health reform legislation, Catholics across the country call and email their representatives with the message, “Remove abortion funding and mandates from needed health care reform.”
They urge House members to “support the Stupak Amendment that addresses essential pro-life concerns on abortion funding and conscience rights” and to “ensure that the Rule for the bill allows a vote on this amendment.”
They urge Senators to “support an amendment to incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights.”
SS. Peter and Paul, St. Ambrose and St. Mary’s in Cumberland distributed bulletin inserts in Masses on Nov. 1, to get the word out about the bishops’ position “against expansion of abortion through health care reform” and to put the call to action into motion.
Nearly 19,000 parishes nationwide received the inserts, distributed by the USCCB to dioceses on Oct. 29, the day Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) unveiled the House bill.
“Genuine health care reform should protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of conception to natural death,” the bishops write, adding that the USCCB concludes “all committee-approved bills are seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience.”
The full insert (and a press release) are available at www.usccb.org/healthcare.
The bishops urge readers to call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or email senators and representatives. A pre-written, instant email to Congress is available at www.usccb.org/action.
According to an Oct. 29 article by Tony Romm in the congressional news publication The Hill, Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) continues to pressure his party's leadership to permit a vote on an amendment that would prevent the funding of abortions with taxpayer dollars. The provision reportedly still was missing from the Democrats’ bill on Oct. 29.
Romm quotes Stupak, “I am disappointed the Capps Amendment has remained intact in H.R. 3962, mandating abortion services for the first time in our nation’s history.”
In an opinion piece in The Hill on Oct. 29, Stupak writes, “My amendment to include Hyde language in H.R. 3200, America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, is not new or out of line with the current policies regarding federal funding for abortions.”
Romm notes, “It is still unclear whether a vote on Stupak's amendment will even take place.”
Another objection to the public option stems from Catholic teachings on principles of subsidiarity -- that people in a free and healthy society resolve local needs at local levels, and solidarity – that people in a free and healthy society develop and share talents in the marketplace and the community, to create the best possible conditions for all.
In an Aug. 22 statement published in The Catholic Key, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann (Kansas City, Kansas) and Bishop Robert W. Finn (Kansas City-St. Joseph) write: "[W]e cannot be passive concerning health care policy in our country. ... [C]hange which expands the reach of government beyond its competence would do more harm than good.”
Naumann and Finn continue: “We call upon our Catholic faithful, and all people of good will, to hold our elected officials accountable in these important deliberations and let them know clearly our support for those who, with prudence and wisdom, will protect the right to life, maintain freedom of conscience, and nurture the sense of solidarity that drives us to work hard, to pray, and to act charitably for the good of all."
Nancy E. Thoerig