WASHINGTON, D.C., OCT. 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops are expressing dismay that current bills in the health care reform debate still have Americans paying for abortions with their taxes.
In a letter Thursday, three officials from the episcopal conference reiterated three criteria that the bishops want to see protected in health care reform.
Bishop William Murphy, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development; Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities; and Bishop John Wester, chairman of the Committee on Migration, signed the note.
They called on Congress to: "Exclude mandated coverage for abortion, and incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. [...] 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," the bishops affirmed.
Furthermore, the letter asks Congress to make "quality health care affordable and accessible to everyone, particularly those who are vulnerable and those who live at or near the poverty level."
Finally, the statement encourages "effective measures to safeguard the health of immigrants, their children and all of society."
The bishops expressed hope that legislation could meet the criteria set by Catholic social teaching.
"However," they wrote, "we remain apprehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes."
Sifting the jargon
E. Christian Brugger, a senior fellow in ethics at the Culture of Life Foundation, published an essay that gives a careful analysis of the bills and laws in question.
He noted that President Barack Obama himself made a false statement to Congress on Sept. 9 when he said, "[U]nder our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions."
The falsity of the statement, Brugger explained, "is cleverly disguised."
At the end of his analysis, the ethicist concludes: "[A]bortion will be available for federal funding under both the private option and the government subsidized exchange options.
"Presently, because of the Hyde Amendment, only abortions in extreme situations -- e.g., rape, incest, threat to the life of the mother -- can be federally funded.
"If HR 3200 and its counterpart in the Senate are voted into law, the federal government, with our money, will go from funding a very small number of abortions annually to funding almost all our country's annual abortions."
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On the Net:
Bishops' letter to Congress: www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/2009-10-08-healthcare-letter-congress.pdf
E. Christian Brugger's essay: www.culture-of-life.org