The Catholic Bishops handling Obamacare for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are not happy with the bills before the Senate, and promise to work against the bill if it is not changed.
Sent by Bishop William Murphy, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop John Wester, a letter was sent today outlining their concerns: “that no one should be forced to pay for or participate in abortion, that health care should be affordable and available to the poor and vulnerable, and that the needs of legal immigrants should be met.”
The biggest issue is of course, abortion. The bishops realize that the Hyde amendment does not apply to Obamacare because it is not an appropriations bill. For non-appropriations legislation, courts have generally ruled that if there is no provision banning abortion funding, abortion funding must be allowed.
Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak is leading the charge of antiabortion Democrats who are threatening to vote against healthcare reform unless more restrictions on abortion funding and coverage are added. He is not very confident that his group will be satisfied.
Below is the Bishops’ Letter.
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 FOURTH STREET NE • WASHINGTON DC 20017-1194 • 202-541-3160
WEBSITE: WWW.USCCB.ORG/healthcare • FAX 202-541-3339
October 8, 2009
United States Senate United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20515
Dear Member of Congress:
On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), we are writing to express our disappointment that progress has not been made on the three priority criteria for health care reform that we have conveyed previously to Congress. In fact, the Senate Finance Committee rejected a conscience rights amendment accepted earlier by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. If final legislation does not meet our principles, we will have no choice but to oppose the bill. We remain committed to working with the Administration, Congressional leadership, and our allies to produce final health reform legislation that will reflect our principles.
We continue to urge you to
1. Exclude mandated coverage for abortion, and incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion. It is essential that the legislation clearly apply to this new program longstanding and widely supported federal restrictions on abortion funding and mandates, and protections for rights of conscience. No current bill meets this test.
2. Adopt measures that protect and improve people’s health care. Reform should make quality health care affordable and accessible to everyone, particularly those who are vulnerable and those who live at or near the poverty level.
3. Include effective measures to safeguard the health of immigrants, their children and all of society. Ensure that legal immigrants and their family members have comprehensive, affordable, and timely access to health care coverage. Maintain an adequate safety net for those who remain uncovered.
We sincerely hope that the legislation will not fall short of our criteria. However, we remain apprehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes. If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously. Catholic moral tradition teaches that health care is a basic human right, essential to protecting human life and dignity. Much-needed reform of our health care system must be pursued in ways that serve the life and dignity of all, never in ways that undermine or violate these fundamental values. We will work tirelessly to remedy these central problems and help pass real reform that clearly protects the life, dignity and health of all.
Bishop William F. Murphy
Diocese of Rockville Centre
Committee on Domestic Justice
& Human Development
Cardinal Justin Rigali
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Committee on Pro-Life
Bishop John Wester
Diocese of Salt Lake City
Committee on Migration