“The Senate vote to table the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment is a grave mistake and a serious blow to genuine health care reform,” said Cardinal Francis George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “The Senate is ignoring the promise made by President Obama and the will of the American people in failing to incorporate longstanding prohibitions on federal funding for abortion and plans that include abortion.”
Bishop William Murphy, Chair of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said: “Congress needs to retain existing abortion funding restrictions and safeguard conscience protections because the nation urgently needs health care reform that protects the life, dignity, conscience and health of all. We will continue to work with Senators, Representatives and the Administration to achieve reform which meets these criteria. We hope the Senate will address the legislation’s fundamental flaw on abortion and remedy its serious problems related to conscience rights, affordability and treatment of immigrants.”
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Chair of the bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said: “Congress needs to separate facts and truth from political rhetoric on abortion funding. Even our opponents claim they do not support federal funding for elective abortions and they want current restrictions to apply. The way to settle this often misleading debate is simply, clearly and explicitly to apply Hyde restrictions to all the federal funds in the legislation. That is what the House did and what the final bill must do. The Senate should not approve this bill in its current form.”
Bishop John Wester, Chair of the bishops’ Committee on Migration, pointed out: “For many years the bishops have strongly supported accessible and affordable health care for all. Health care must protect, not threaten, human life and dignity; respect, not violate, consciences of providers, taxpayers, and others. We believe universal coverage should be truly universal, not deny health care to those in need because of where they come from or when they arrive here. The Senate proposal falls short in these areas. Immigrants deserve access to health care for their benefit and the common good of all of society. We urge Senators to resist amendments that would leave immigrants and their families behind as the nation reforms health care. We urge Senators to support amendments that improve health-care access for immigrants and their families and to oppose efforts that deny them access.”
Cardinal George concluded: “While we deplore the Senate’s refusal to adopt the Nelson-Hatch-Casey amendment, we remain hopeful that the protections overwhelmingly passed by the House will be incorporated into needed reform legislation. Failure to exclude abortion funding will turn allies into adversaries and require us and others to oppose this bill because it abandons both principle and precedent.”
Stay up-to-date on the Catholic perspective on health care reform at www.usccb.org/healthcare.