USCCB News Release
February 5, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cardinal Rigali to Congress: Keep Existing Pro-Life Laws
WASHINGTON—Writing as chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Justin Rigali sent a letter on February 5 to all members of Congress, urging them to maintain pro-life provisions in the appropriations bills they must soon approve to keep government programs funded past March 5. "I urge you not to use this legislation to weaken or rescind longstanding provisions that protect U.S. taxpayers from being forced to fund and promote the destruction of innocent human life," Cardinal Rigali said.
"In making this plea," he said, "I am joined by millions of Catholics and others who, in the weeks to come, will be sending postcards to their elected representatives with this message: 'Please oppose FOCA [the 'Freedom of Choice Act'] or any similar measure, and retain laws against federal funding and promotion of abortion.' While an extreme proposal like FOCA would overturn hundreds of pro-life laws at once, we are equally concerned that such laws may be overturned one at a time during Congress's appropriations process."
The prelate's letter highlighted several pro-life provisions, including: the Hyde amendment and similar measures protecting American taxpayers from being forced to subsidize abortions; the Dickey/Wicker amendment preventing federal funding for research in which human embryos are created, harmed and destroyed; and the Kemp-Kasten amendment preventing U.S. funding of organizations that support or help manage programs of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization.
Cardinal Rigali also called on Congress to maintain the Hyde/Weldon conscience protection amendment, a key measure preventing discrimination against health care providers who do not perform or refer for abortions. "Clearly 'choice' is an empty slogan if physicians, nurses and hospitals must 'choose' to provide abortions or be forced out of the health care field," he said.
"Like Congress's decision about requiring taxpayers to fund abortion, the decision whether to maintain current conscience protections could play a major role in determining whether Americans of different backgrounds, viewpoints and religions will be able to work together toward a consensus on much-needed health care reform," Cardinal Rigali advised.
The entire text of the letter will be available at: http://www.usccb.org/prolife/rigali_2-5-09.pdf.