Wednesday, December 9, 2009

With pro-life amendment's defeat, US bishops urge opposition to Senate health bill

By a 54-45 vote, the United States Senate has rejected the Nelson-Hatch-Casey Amendment to health care legislation. The amendment would have kept in place “the longstanding and widely supported federal policy against government funding of health coverage that includes elective abortions,” as the US Conference of Catholic Bishops stated before the vote.

With the failure of the amendment, the bishops write that “the current legislation should be opposed.” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, and Bishop John Wester of Salt Lake City-- who respectively chair the bishops’ committees on domestic justice, pro-life activities, and migration-- noted:

The bill currently before the Senate allows the HHS Secretary to mandate abortion coverage throughout the government-run “community health insurance option.” It also provides funding for other plans that cover unlimited abortions, and creates an unprecedented mandatory “abortion surcharge” in such plans that will require pro-life purchasers to pay directly and explicitly for other people’s abortions. The bill does not maintain essential nondiscrimination protections for providers who decline involvement in abortion.
The pro-life amendment fell on a 54-45 vote. All but two Republican senators voted in favor of the amendment; the exceptions were Senators Snowe and Collins of Maine. All but 7 Democrats voted against the amendment; the exceptions were Senators Nelson of Nebraska, Casey of Pennsylvania, Bayh of Indiana, Conrad and Dorgan of North Dakota, Kaufman of Delaware, and Pryor of Arkansas.

A bare Senate majority of 51 votes is required for passage of the health-care reform bill. (Actually 50 votes would suffice, because Vice President Biden would case a tie-breaking vote in favor.) So the 54 votes against the pro-life language suggested that sponsors might have enough support to ensure ultimate passage of the legislation. However, several Democratic senators have indicated that they may not support the bill in a final vote, for a variety of reasons. Also, 60 votes are necessary to close debate on the proposal, and the 54-vote margin leaves Democratic leaders well short of that goal.

~ Via Catholic World News.

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