By Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C, June 28, 2010 ( – The Catholic Health Association (CHA) prolonged its fight with the U.S. bishops over the health care reform last week. The organization issued a statement reinforcing its continued support of President Obama's legislation despite unequivocal condemnation from bishops and other pro-life groups over the measure's expansion of abortion.

After Obama met with health insurers and state insurance commissioners last week about implementing health care reform, CHA took the opportunity to heap praise on the controversial legislation, which CHA's support was widely acknowledged as critical in pushing through.

“Once fully enacted, we are confident that the Affordable Care Act will provide access to more affordable insurance products and a greater sense of security for over 32 million people in this country that currently lack these protections,” stated the trade association.

“We continue to applaud the President for his strong leadership in this important area.”

The statement also came on the heels of remarks by Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), who re-emphasized earlier this month that CHA's endorsement dealt a “wound to Catholic unity” and “weakened the moral voice” of the Catholic hierarchy by giving Catholic Democrats political cover to vote for the bill.

Cardinal George explained that attempts by bishops to dissuade CHA president Sr. Carol Keehan from endorsing the bill had failed. At the same time, it was earlier revealed that President Obama played a personal role in convincing Keehan to back the bill. Obama later rewarded Keehan with one of the ceremonial pens used to sign the legislation.

CHA's latest statement nowhere mentions the bill's major flaws in terms of taxpayer funding of abortion.

Pro-life leaders last week issued a challenge to CHA to prove its fidelity to the pro-life teachings of the Catholic Church by supporting the Protect Life Act, which would amend the federal health care legislation to bar public funds from going to abortion. The Catholic Health Association has not answered's request for comment on the letter as of press time.


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