WASHINGTON, D.C., January 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The U.S. bishops have thrown their support behind three key pro-life bills currently before the U.S. House of Representatives. In three letters, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), urged House members to support the bills.
The first piece of legislation, the “Protect Life Act,” sponsored by Rep. Pitts, would amend the federal health care law to include a statutory ban on government-funded abortion in the health care reform law.
Cardinal DiNardo wrote in a January 20 letter that Rep. Pitts’ bill would bring the health law “into line with policies on abortion and conscience rights that have long prevailed in other federal health programs.”
“I urge you to support and co-sponsor this important legislation,” DiNardo wrote to congressmen.
In a second letter date January 20, Cardinal DiNardo urged support for the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA), H.R. 361, which would codify into law the Hyde/Weldon amendment, which protects health care workers who are opposed to abortion for reasons of conscience.
The bill would give health care entities that do not provide abortions legal recourse when faced with government-sponsored discrimination. The Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services would be designated to investigate complaints.
“Passage of ANDA is urgently needed to protect the civil rights of health professionals and other health care entities,” the cardinal wrote. “This bill reaffirms a basic principle: No health care entity should be forced by government to perform or participate in abortions.”
In a January 21 letter, Cardinal DiNardo also voiced his support for the bipartisan No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, H.R. 3. This would “write into permanent law a policy on which there has been strong popular and congressional agreement for over 35 years: The federal government should not use taxpayers’ money to support and promote elective abortion,” wrote the cardinal.
“Even public officials who take a ‘pro-choice’ stand on abortion, and courts that have insisted on the validity of a constitutional ‘right’ to abortion, have agreed that the government can validly use its funding power to encourage childbirth over abortion.”
Cardinal DiNardo noted that this agreement is so longstanding that, during the recent health care debate, many assumed it was already in place at all levels of the federal government. However, the Hyde amendment is actually only a rider to the annual Labor/HHS appropriations bill and only governs funds under that act.
“The benefit of H.R. 3 is that it would prevent problems and confusions on abortion funding in future legislation,” he said. “Federal health bills could be debated in terms of their ability to promote the goal of universal health care, instead of being mired in debates about one lethal procedure that most Americans know is not truly ‘health care’ at all.”