Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Catholic Church Strongly Opposes the US Senate Health Care Bill

Regardless of attempts by some to cloud the issue, the Catholic Church clearly and unequivocally opposes the health care reform legislation currently pending before Congress. While the Church has long supported the goal of expanding access to health care, it cannot support, and must oppose, any expansion of access to abortion and in particular federal subsidization of it.

For almost a year, the Catholic bishops have worked tirelessly to ensure that the health care reform proposal would not include federal funding of abortion. Indeed, the only reason the House version of health care legislation even passed the House of Representatives in the fall was because it included the Stupak amendment, which applies existing protections against federal funding of abortion to the bill. The votes simply were not there to pass an abortion-friendly bill.

Yet the President and congressional leaders have decided to push ahead with the Senate version of the bill, which lacks the Stupak protections. By doing so, they are jeopardizing passage of their own health care reform bill….all for the sake of expanding access to abortion.

Every Pro-Life group in the country opposes the Senate bill and agrees with the following:

· Federal funds in the Senate bill can be used for elective abortions. The bill appropriates $7 billion for services at Community Health Centers which can be used directly for elective abortions.

· The Senate bill uses federal funds to subsidize health plans that cover abortions. Under the bill, a federal tax credit can be used to pay premiums for health plans covering elective abortions. This violates current and longstanding federal policy on abortion funding which forbids the use of federal funds for any part of a health benefits package that covers elective abortions.

· The Senate bill uses federal power to force Americans to pay for other people’s abortions even if they are morally opposed. The bill mandates that insurance companies deciding to cover elective abortions in a health plan “shall… collect from each enrollee in the plan (without regard to the enrollee’s age, sex, or family status) a separate payment” for such abortions. Everyone purchasing such a plan will be required by federal law to make separate payments solely and specifically for other people’s abortions -- no accommodation is permitted for people morally opposed to abortion.

As one might expect, many deeply misleading statements have been issued in recent days on this subject, some by organizations purporting to represent Catholics or Catholic institutions. Make no mistake: the Catholic Church determinedly opposes the Senate bill.

At a minimum, Congress must fix the Senate bill so that it no longer funds abortion and that missing conscience protections for health care professionals and institutions are provided. Please contact your representative and your senators and give them this message.