By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
As the vote to repeal the vastly unpopular health care reform law gets underway in the House today, the U.S. Bishops have sent a letter to all members of Congress saying they do not intend to join efforts to either support or oppose repeal of ObamaCare, but will “devote our efforts to correcting serious moral problems in the current law.”
The bishops wrote that any action taken by Congress on health care reform should reflect the following moral criteria:
• Ensure access to quality, affordable, life-giving health care for all.
• Retain longstanding requirements that effectively protect conscience right and that prohibit use of federal funds for elective abortion or plans that include them.
• Protect the access to health care that immigrants currently have and remove current barriers to access.
In another letter sent to all members of Congress by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the bishops outline an agenda for dialogue and action as the new Congress moves forward.
Some of these agenda items include their continued opposition to any efforts by Congress to expand abortion.
“We will work to retain essential, widely supported policies which show respect for unborn life, protect the conscience rights of health care providers and other Americans, and prevent government funding and promotion of abortion,” the Archbishop writes. “The Hyde amendment and other provisions which for many years have prevented federal funding of abortion have a proven record of reducing abortions, and should be codified in permanent law.”
Support for marriage is also on their agenda.
“No other kinds of personal relationships can be justly made equivalent or analogous to the commitment of a husband and a wife in marriage, because no other relationship can connect children to the two people who brought them into the world,” the Archbishop writes.
“For this reason, we will continue to vigorously support the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and strongly oppose legislative or executive measures that seek to redefine or erode the meaning of marriage. We suggest Congressional oversight of executive actions that have the effect of undermining DOMA, such as the expansion of spousal benefits to two persons of the same sex, and the weak defense of DOMA in court against constitutional challenge.”
The letter also calls for comprehensive immigration reform.
“We will work with the Administration and the new Congress to fix a broken immigration system which harms both immigrants and our entire nation. Comprehensive reform is needed to deal with the economic and human realities of millions of immigrants in our midst. We realize that reform must be based on respect for and implementation of the law and for the legitimate and timely question of national security. Equally, however, it must defend the rights and dignity of all peoples, recognizing that human dignity comes from God and does not depend on where people were born or how they came to our nation.”
The Archbishop concludes: “We hope to offer a constructive and principled contribution to national discussion about the values and policies that will shape our nation’s future. We seek to work together with our nation’s leaders to advance the common good of our society.”
The full text of these letters can be found here.
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