By Peter J. Smith


WASHINGTON, D.C., May 29, 2009 ( – Since his inauguration President Barack Obama has made clear that achieving universal health care this year is his top priority, prompting a warning from the US Catholic bishops that any proposal for reform must exclude abortion.


“While we support reforming our nation’s health care system, we must also be clear in strongly opposing inclusion of abortion as part of a national health care benefit,” states Bishop William F. Murphy, Chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development.


In a letter submitted to the US Senate Committee on Finance, and circulated by the USCCB to members of Congress and the White House, Murphy stated the Catholic Church would also not tolerate the “inclusion of other procedures or technologies that attack or undermine the sanctity and dignity of life.”


“No health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for or participate in the destruction of human life. To preserve this principle is morally right and politically wise as well,” continued Murphy. “No health care legislation that compels Americans to pay for or participate in abortion will find sufficient votes to pass.”


Murphy offered the following as guidelines for health care reform on behalf of the bishops: “1) a truly universal health policy with respect for human life and dignity; 2) access for all with a special concern for the poor; 3) pursuing the common good and preserving pluralism, including freedom of conscience and variety of options; and 4) restraining costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers.”


During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama’s staff made clear to abortion advocates that he believed “reproductive health services,” a term which includes abortion, belongs among basic health care services.


“Senator Obama believes that reproductive health care is basic health care. His health care plan will create a new public plan, which will provide coverage of all essential medical services,” reads a response from campaign staffers to an RH Reality Check survey.


“His health care plan will create a new public plan, which will provide coverage of all essential medical services,” the campaign added. “Reproductive health care is an essential service – just like mental health care and disease management and other preventive services under his plan.”


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