LSN Interview with Roger Conner of Catholic Charities Re: Obama Health Care Bills

Tue Aug 11, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST

August 10, 2009 ( - Following is the complete text of the Aug. 11 telephone interview by LSN's Kathleen Gilbert with Catholic Charities spokesman Roger Conner.

LSN: "The USCCB Pro-Life Office Executive Director Tom Grenchik on Friday wrote about the current bills on Capitol Hill, and he said that: '... one thing is certain. The bills approved so far by House and Senate committees include mandated abortion coverage and abortion funding, and that is a line we can never cross.'  Does Catholic Charities agree that the current bill's handling of abortion is 'a line we can never cross,' even if that means a delay in health care reform?"

CONNER: Well, I don't know about using the exact same language that you stated as a question, I think that what we would stand with was our best and strong explanation that: number one, we advocate and support health care reform.  Number two, we don't support any bill or any legislation or any provision therein that would promote or provide for abortion.  And finally, and I think the third point that's important, we will work, or we are working to make sure that no such provision is included. So we stand by our statements.

LSN: As Grenchik pointed out, too, there have been numerous amendments to keep abortion out of the health care reform that have already been defeated in committee. ... Since there has been apparently no progress in this regard, and as he said, the current forms of the bill do include mandated abortion coverage and abortion funding, do you agree health care reform is going to have to wait, because these bills are poised to be passed?

CONNER: I think the point that I've stated is clear, and that is that we're very clear at Catholic Charities USA on where we stand on the Church's teachings on life, and we support all of the Church's teachings on life, and I think we've been quite clear and emphatic about that.

LSN: What is your position on these health care bills, these particular ones?

CONNER: We've said that we, we, we support health care reform, but we do not support any bill that has those provisions in it. I think that would basically be the end of it. 

LSN: Do you agree that the bills—

CONNER: I think we've covered it.

LSN: I don't think you've answered my question.

CONNER: I think I have.

LSN: I just want to know what your position is on this bill, on these bills in the House and the Senate, what is the official position of Catholic Charities? 

CONNER: ...I've just explained it. ... While we support health care reform, we do not support any bill that would provide for or promote abortion in it.  So I think I've clarified that. Thanks. Ok?

See related LSN report:

Catholic Charities Refuses to Oppose Obama Health Care Bill

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