by James Tillman

WASHINGTON, DC, March 15, 2010 (—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has again weighed in against the health care reform bill approved by the Senate (H.R. 3590) due to “serious flaws on abortion and conscience rights.” 

In a bulletin insert updated on Thursday for release in parishes the following Sunday, the USCCB acknowledged that the Senate health care bill passed last Christmas Eve “requires federal funds to help subsidize and promote health plans that cover elective abortions,” and that “all purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people's abortions through a separate payment solely to pay for abortion.”

Therefore, the bishops called on Catholics to lobby representatives “today” to ”stop abortion funding in health care reform!”

Last October the USCCB had instructed that a pro-life insert be included in parish bulletins as part of a massive campaign waged against any funding of abortion in the health-care bill. As before, the current insert directs parishioners to to write an email to Congress and call their senators and representatives.

The USCCB has recently taken other measures against the bill as well.  Last Friday, they released a rebuttal to the claim by Professor Timothy Jost of Washington and Lee School of Law that “there are no significant differences between” the health care reform bills passed by the House and by the Senate.

Jost claimed that the “Senate bill, like the House bill … provides no funding for new programs that cover abortions.”

The USCCB responded that the “Senate bill authorizes and appropriates billions of dollars in new funding” at “Community Health Centers,” which will “be available for elective abortions, as nothing in this bill (or in any other law) prevents their use for this purpose.”

The same response details how, despite repeated denials by President Obama and others, the Hyde amendment would not prevent the bill from funding abortions, and how the bill would fail to implement current conscience protections for health care workers under the new scheme.

Responding to pro-abortion lobbyists complaining that the House bill imposes new restrictions on abortion coverage, the US bishops pointed out in a factsheet released this month that the House bill simply follows longstanding federal policy found in the Hyde amendment, stating: “No funds authorized or appropriated in the entire bill may be used for elective abortions or health plans that cover them.”

“People are not forced to pay for other people's abortions, and those who want abortion coverage may buy it separately without using federal funds,” wrote the bishops. “This policy would maintain longstanding federal precedent, ensuring that this is a health bill and not an abortion bill.”

See related stories on 

USCCB Launches All-Out Campaign against Abortion-Funding Healthcare


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