Beliefnet
Beliefnet News

WASHINGTON (RNS) In a break with Catholic hospital administrators, the nation’s top Catholic bishop says the health care reform bill “must be opposed” because it does not adequately ban federal funding of abortion.
“The American people and the Catholic bishops have been promised that, in any final bill, no federal funds would be used for abortion and that the legal status quo would be respected,” Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Monday (March 15).
President Obama, who is pressing Congress to pass a health care bill this week, has pledged to exclude federal funding of abortion from the legislation except in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother’s health is in jeopardy, as has been federal law since the 1970s.
Obama and others say the health care bill passed by the Senate in December fulfills that promise. The Catholic bishops argue that it does not, and that only the version passed by the House in December contains the necessary ban.
Because of congressional rules and partisan politics, Democratic leaders are pushing the House to adopt the Senate version. The Catholic Health Association, which represents 2,000 health care sponsors, systems, hospitals, and long-term facilities, calls the Senate bill a “major first step” toward covering all Americans. CHA officials say the abortion language can be “corrected” after it passes.
George acknowledged the CHA’s difference of opinion. “The bishops, however, judge that the flaws are so fundamental that they vitiate the good that the bill intends to promote,” he said.
“Assurances that the moral objections to the legislation can be met only after the bill is passed seem a little like asking us, in Midwestern parlance, to buy a pig in a poke,” he said.
By Daniel Burke
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus