Life Issues Forum
Nothing Like It Since Roe v. Wade
By Tom Grenchik
January 22, 2010
As long-time advocates of health care reform, the U.S. Catholic bishops continue to make the moral case that genuine health care reform must protect the life, dignity, consciences and health of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. The bishops have stated clearly that health care reform should not advance a pro-abortion agenda in our country. But that is, in fact, what’s happening.
On November 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed major health care reform that reaffirms the essential, longstanding and widely supported policy against using federal funds for elective abortions or plans that cover abortions and includes positive measures on affordability and immigrants. On December 24, the U.S. Senate rejected this policy and passed health care reform that requires federal funds to help subsidize and promote health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions through a separate payment solely for abortion, and there is no way to opt out. Outside the abortion context, neither bill has adequate conscience protection for health care providers, plans or employers.
These two bills must now be combined into one bill that both the House and Senate will vote on in final form. Provisions against abortion funding and in favor of conscience protection must be part of a just health care reform bill, or the final bill must be opposed. The bishops continue to be attacked for trying to “derail health care over abortion,” but who is it that is really forcing the abortion issue on health care reform?
Thirty-seven years ago, the Supreme Court wrongly decreed that abortion was the law of the land. Now Congress wants to force us to pay for it. This could be the most radical expansion of abortion in our country since Roe v. Wade and conscience protections are being trampled in the process.
Catholics, and all people of good will, need to make their voices heard insisting that health care reform protect the lives, dignity, consciences and health of all, and not advance a radical abortion agenda on our country. Parishes across the country are distributing bulletin inserts from the U.S. bishops’ Conference asking you to please contact your congressional representatives immediately and urge them to address these moral issues. The insert includes a web address www.usccb.org/action that allows you to send an email message to Congress with a click of a button or you can call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices. Contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at www.house.gov & www.senate.gov.
The message to Congress is simple: “I urge you to work to uphold essential provisions against abortion funding, to include full conscience protection and to assure that health care is accessible and affordable for all. Until and unless these criteria are met, I urge you to oppose the final bill.”
Abortion is not health care. True health care reform should be about saving lives, not destroying them.
To learn more about the bishops’ advocacy for authentic health care reform, visit www.usccb.org/healthcare.
Tom Grenchik is Executive Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Go to www.usccb.org/prolife to learn more about the bishops’ pro-life activities.