USCCB News Release
May 22, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bishop Murphy says true health reform must respect human life, dignity
USCCB calls for accessible, affordable health care for all
Must include special concern for poor and freedom of conscience
BISHOPS RENEW LONG-TERM AND URGENT CALL FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM THAT BENEFITS ALL IN STATEMENT TO SENATE COMMITTEE
WASHINGTON—Expressing hope that the current dialogue would bring about real reform, Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y. offered the U.S. bishops’ principles and criteria for health care reform in a May 20 statement to the Senate Committee on Finance’s Roundtable Discussion on “Expanding Health Care Coverage.” On May 21, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) sent letters expressing the same message to the House, Senate and White House.
Bishop Murphy, chairman of the Committee on Domestic Social Justice and Human Development of the USCCB, noted that the bishops “have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform leading to accessible and affordable health care for all,” renewing the bishops’ long-term support for health care reform.
Saying it involves fundamental issues of human life and dignity, Bishop Murphy called health care a “critical component” of the ministry of the Catholic Church.
“The Church provides health care, purchases health care and picks up the pieces of a failing health care system,” Bishop Murphy said. “The Catholic community encounters and serves the sick and uninsured in our emergency rooms, shelters and on the doorsteps of our parishes. One out of six patients is cared for in Catholic hospitals. We bring strong convictions and everyday experience to the issue of health care.”
Bishop Murphy added that Congress should continue the federal funding prohibition on abortions and noted that, “No health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for or participate in the destruction of human life.” Bishop Murphy further stated, “To preserve this principle is morally right and politically wise as well. No health care legislation that compels Americans to pay for or participate in abortion will find sufficient votes to pass.”
He offered on behalf of the U.S. bishops, principles and criteria for health care reform. These included respect for life, priority concern for the poor, access for all, comprehensive benefits, equitable financing, pluralism and freedom of conscience.
Noting that the U.S. bishops look forward to working with Congress on this issue, Bishop Murphy added, “Health care is a social good, and accessible and affordable health care for all benefits both individuals and the society as a whole. The moral measure of any health care reform proposal is whether it offers affordable and accessible health care to all, beginning with those most in need. This can be a matter of life or death, of dignity or deprivation.”
The full text of Bishop Murphy’s statement is available online at http://www.usccb.org/sdwp/national/2009-05-usccb-health-care-statement.pdf.