By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 30, 2009 ( – A prominent Catholic nun who is pushing for health care reform has dismissed concerns over Obama’s health legislation – which pro-lifers say includes the “largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade” – as “insignificant details,” according to a Catholic News Service (CNS) report.

The remarks were given at an interfaith prayer breakfast July 28 in Washington, D.C. where several religious speakers urged hasty passage of health care reform.

Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the national Catholic justice lobby NETWORK, joined in the calls for quick action on the bills, and blamed a fear of change as the cause of Congress’ delay. Campbell said the vote was being stymied because lawmakers were confused by “insignificant details,” in the words of the CNS report.

“Too often in D.C. we can get caught in the details and in the argument,” said the nun. “The people of the United States are the ones that set us straight.”

Pro-life lawmakers on Capitol Hill have fought against efforts to push the bill through Congress, due to its current openness to taxpayer-funded abortion coverage. 20 pro-life Democrats vowed in June to opposed the bill until the problem was resolved, and Bart Stupak (D-MI) has confirmed that as many as 39 House Democrats – enough to kill the bill – would resist the abortion mandate in the bill.

Campbell was joined by a number of other Catholic representatives, including the left-leaning Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, who also called for swift health care reform.

U.S. pro-life leaders have in recent weeks united in a coordinated campaign to expose the fact that the healthcare legislation in its current form is bound to be interpreted to include abortion in the government insurance’s essential health care package. In addition, the bills call for private insurers to be pressured to meet the government’s standards for a basic health care package – thus vastly increasing the availability and number of abortions.

Several amendments introduced to stop the taxpayer-funded abortion mandate, as well as provide conscience protections for doctors objecting to abortion, have been rejected in both House and Senate.

Last week, three major Catholic organizations issued a joint action alert calling on readers to tell Congressmen to immediately pass health care reform, but made no mention of the abortion mandate in the bill currently under consideration.

Catholic Charities USA, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and the Catholic Health Association (CHA) told constituents that “While there are many details in the health reform bill(s) that still need to be developed, we must maintain momentum for health care reform efforts with calls and emails supporting health care reform immediately.” The statement condemned those who are opposing the health care legislation.

However, the CHA later sent LSN a statement, in response to concerns that had been expressed by pro-life leaders, saying, “CHA has written letters to members of Congress and the White House – often in conjunction with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops – calling for legislation that does not include an expansion of abortion,” said the organization.

“In personal conversations with members of Congress and their staffs and in letters, CHA continues to work to ensure that public policies reflect the importance of religious freedom and conscience clause protections in the delivery of health and social services.”

While the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has also called for health care reform, the bishops have made a strong point of disavowing any legislation that would provide a threat to unborn life.

“No health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion,” wrote Bishop William Murphy, representing the USCCB, in a letter to Congress July 17.

“Genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all is a moral imperative and a vital national obligation. … Health care reform cannot be a vehicle for abandoning this consensus which respects freedom of conscience and honors our best American traditions.”

To politely express concern:

25 E St. NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20001-1630
Phone: 202.347.9797
Fax: 202.347.9864
[email protected]

Catholic Charities USA
66 Canal Center Plaza
Suite 600
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Phone: (703) 549-1390
Fax: (703) 549-1656
[email protected]

Sister Carol Keehan, President and CEO
The Catholic Health Association
1875 Eye Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20006-5440
phone: (202) 296-3993
[email protected]

Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
58 Progress Parkway
St. Louis, Missouri 63043-3706
phone: 314-576-3993
fax: 576-6755
[email protected]

See related coverage:

Major Catholic Organizations Push for Healthcare Overhaul Despite Abortion Mandate