WASHINGTON, D.C., January 28, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After causing a major stir last year by claiming that President Obama’s health reform law did not fund abortion – in contradiction to position of the U.S. Bishops and every major pro-life group – the Catholic Health Association (CHA) has now backed a bill that would amend the law to prevent government-funded abortion in health care.
In a January 24th letter to Rep. Joe Pitts, who sponsored the Protect Life Act, CHA President and CEO Sr. Carol Keehan says she applauds his “efforts to ensure the protection of the unborn and of providers’ conscience rights.”
Pitt’s legislation was unveiled last week along with the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act” (HR 3), which would establish a permanent government-wide ban on federal funding of abortion.
Sr. Keehan said, however, that CHA still maintains that health care bill, known as the Affordable Care Act, prevents federal funding of abortion. Nevertheless, “your legislation will provide further protection by codifying the ‘Hyde amendment’ relative to the new health care reform law,” she wrote. “We also appreciate the bill’s additions to the conscience protections which hospitals and health care providers already have under the Weldon Amendment.”
In June, a contingent of pro-life leaders had called on Sr. Keehan to prove CHA’s dedication to pro-life Catholic principles by supporting Pitts’ Protect Life Act. The letter was signed by leaders from the Susan B. Anthony List, the Catholic Medical Association, Americans United for Life, Family Research Council Action, and other top pro-life and Catholic groups.
“This is not time to recall Sr. Keehan’s and CHA’s past support for the health care bill,” said Deal Hudson, President of Catholic Advocate. “What’s important to underscore is the united front of the bishops, pro-life leaders, and Catholic organizations like CHA who stand together behind this important legislation.”
“Sr. Keehan has done the right thing, and I applaud her for that,” he added.
CHA president Keehan had risen to fame earlier last year when it was revealed that she had supported the health law throughout its journey into law. After the law was signed by President Obama, she was awarded one of the pens that he signed it with, as a token of thanks.
USCCB president Cardinal Francis George later specifically blamed Keehan for the passage of the bill, saying that CHA’s defiance delivered a “wound to Catholic unity” and that, “The Catholic Health Association and other so-called Catholic groups provided cover for those on the fence to support Obama and the administration.”