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Read U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Letters of Support for Pro-Life Healthcare Amendment


The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been a MAJOR player in this debate over abortion language in the House healthcare reform bill. The bottom line is that if they signed off on new acceptable language then that would be the key for many pro-life Democrats. The Brody File has received the two letters put out by the Bishops. The first one is in support of this new pro-life amendment that will be voted on today. (Saturday) The other one is more broader about their support for healthcare reform if the new pro-life amendment is adopted.

November 7, 2009

United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Representative:

On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), we strongly urge you to vote for the Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Lipinski-Smith Amendment and to support a fair process in the House of Representatives to consider this essential improvement in health care reform legislation. The Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Lipinski-Smith Amendment will keep in place current federal law on abortion funding and conscience protections in the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962).

Despite some claims to the contrary, H.R. 3962 does not reflect the status quo on abortion.  It fails to explicitly and clearly include the longstanding policy prohibiting federal funding of elective abortion and plans which include elective abortion (Hyde Amendment). Medicaid, Medicare, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and other federal health legislation include this provision.  Currently H.R. 3962 has some helpful provisions on conscience protection and non- preemption of state laws, but it utterly fails to maintain current prohibitions on abortion mandates and abortion funding.  Instead it creates elaborate measures requiring people to pay for other people’s abortions with their taxes, private premiums or federal subsidies.  Significantly, the Federal Employee Heath Benefit Program, which covers all members of Congress and their families, has long been governed by the Hyde amendment in all its aspects and is widely seen as a model for reform.

Additionally, H.R. 3962 allows the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to mandate that the “public option” will include unlimited abortions. Millions of purchasers will be forced to pay an “abortion surcharge,” which requires purchasers of many plans to pay directly and explicitly for abortion coverage.  This is unprecedented in federal law.

The Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Lipinski-Smith Amendment will not affect coverage of abortion in non-subsidized health plans, and will not bar anyone from purchasing a supplemental abortion policy with their own funds. Thus far, H.R. 3962 does not meet President Obama’s commitment of barring use of federal dollars for abortion and maintaining current conscience laws.

If the Motion to Recommit focuses on denying immigrants needed health care, as reported, we strongly urge Members to oppose the Motion to Recommit.

Our Bishops’ conference has been working for many years to support health care reform legislation that truly protects the life, dignity, health and consciences of all. Adopting this amendment will help move us move toward this essential national priority and moral imperative.

Sincerely,

Bishop William Murphy   Cardinal Justin Rigali
Diocese of Rockville Centre   Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Chairman     Chairman
Committee on Domestic Justice and  Committee on Pro-life Activities
Human Development

NEXT LETTER

November 7, 2009 

United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Representative:

The Catholic Bishops of the United States have supported adequate and affordable health
care for decades. Our Bishops’ conference has been working with Members of Congress, the Administration and others to help fashion health care reform legislation that truly protects the life, dignity, health and consciences of all.

We are very pleased that the House leadership has agreed to allow the essential Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts-Kaptur-Dahlkemper-Lipinski-Smith Amendment to be considered by the House. This amendment will add to the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) crucial provisions that maintain the current protections against abortion funding and mandates. Specifically, it will achieve our objective of applying the provisions of the Hyde amendment to the public health plan and on the affordability credits in the exchanges called for in the legislation.

Passing this amendment allows the House to meet our criteria of preserving the existing protections against abortion funding in the new legislation. It also would fulfill President Obama’s commitment in this area.  Most importantly, it will ensure that no government funds will be used for abortion or health plans which include abortion. It is a major step forward.  We express appreciation for the courageous and principled leadership of the Democratic pro-life caucus, especially Representatives Stupak, Ellsworth, Kaptur, Oberstar, Donnelly, Doyle, Dahlkemper, and others who played essential roles in persuading the House leadership to allow this essential amendment to come to the floor. We also welcome the wise decision of the House leadership to take this important procedural step which we believe will help pass much needed health care reform.

  The Conference will remain vigilant and involved through this entire process to assure that these essential provisions are maintained and included in the final legislation. With this important step forward we hope the House can come together and finally move forward essential reform which truly will protect the life, dignity, conscience and health of all.  We also hope the Senate will follow the example of the House and include these essential safeguards in their version of health care reform legislation.

We are deeply concerned about other aspects of health care reform, especially as it affects the poor and vulnerable in our midst. We will continue to insist that health care reform legislation protects conscience rights.  We strongly support provisions in the legislation that will make health care more affordable for low-income people and the uninsured. We remain deeply concerned that immigrants be treated fairly and not lose the health care coverage that have now. If the Motion to Recommit focuses on denying immigrants needed health care, as reported, we strongly urge Members to oppose the Motion to Recommit.


The nation and the Congress are now engaged in an intense and much needed national discussion on how to provide affordable and accessible health care for all. We are not experts on health care policy and cannot assess every provision of legislation as complex as this proposal. However, health care legislation is not just political, technical, or economic, but also moral. Health care reform is about life and death, who can take their children to the doctor and who cannot, who can afford decent health care coverage and who are left to fend for themselves.

For the Catholic Church, health care is a basic human right and providing health care is an essential ministry. We pick up the pieces of this failing system in our emergency rooms, clinics, parishes and communities. This is why we strongly support Congressional action on health care reform which protects human life and dignity and serves the poor and vulnerable as a moral imperative and an urgent national priority.

Sincerely,

Bishop William Murphy   Cardinal Justin Rigali
Diocese of Rockville Centre   Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Chairman     Chairman
Committee on Domestic Justice and  Committee on Pro-life Activities
Human Development

 

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