U.S. Bishops Say Current Health Care Reform Bill Must be Stopped

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

The U.S. Bishops are calling on the faithful to oppose the current version of health care reform because its fundamental flaws, such as abortion funding and a lack of conscience protections, “vitiate the good the bill intends to promote.”

In a statement issued yesterday, Cardinal Francis George OMI of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) cited two basic principles why they are calling for opposition to the bill. The first is providing health “across the human life span” and the expansion of abortion funding and policies forcing everyone to pay for abortions.

“Because these principles have not been respected, despite the good that the bill under consideration intends or might achieve, the Catholic bishops regretfully hold that it must be opposed unless and until these serious moral problems are addressed.”

The Cardinal’s statement also addressed the recent and controversial endorsement of the current bill by the Catholic Health Association, saying the organization does not share their analysis of the flaws in the legislation.

“They believe, moreover, that the defects that they do recognize can be corrected after the passage of the final bill. The bishops, however, judge that the flaws are so fundamental that they vitiate the good that the bill intends to promote. Assurances that the moral objections to the legislation can be met only after the bill is passed seem a little like asking us, in Midwestern parlance, to buy a pig in a poke.”

Cardinal George went on to express his disappointment that legislators have chosen to undermine the Hyde Amendment, which has prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortion for decades. 

“The American people and the Catholic bishops have been promised that, in any final bill, no federal funds would be used for abortion and that the legal status quo would be respected.”

He says the bishops were disappointed and puzzled to learn that the basis for any vote on health care will be the Senate bill passed on Christmas Eve.

“Notwithstanding the denials and explanations of its supporters, and unlike the bill approved by the House of Representatives in November, the Senate bill deliberately excludes the language of the Hyde amendment. It expands federal funding and the role of the federal government in the provision of abortion procedures. In so doing, it forces all of us to become involved in an act that profoundly violates the conscience of many, the deliberate destruction of unwanted members of the human family still waiting to be born.”

Cardinal George says the absence of the Hyde Amendment in the Senate bill, and the resulting impasse it created, are not an accident, and says the parties responsible for its exclusion are obstructing reform.

“Those in the Senate who wanted to purge the Hyde amendment from this national legislation are obstructing the reform of health care,” he said.

“This is not quibbling over technicalities,” he said. “The deliberate omission in the Senate Bill of the necessary language that could have taken this moral question off the table and out of play leaves us still looking for a way to meet the President’s and our concern to provide health care for those millions whose primary care physician is now an emergency room doctor.”

Therefore, the U.S. bishops are joining the majority of the American people in calling for vigorous opposition of the bill.

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