December 23, 2009

Alert! Senate Health Care Reform Vote Set for Dec. 24

On Thursday evening, December 24, Christmas Eve, the United States Senate is expected to vote on final passage of its health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  In a December 22 letter to members of the Senate, the U.S. Bishops state that the abortion and conscience provisions in this proposal are not acceptable. The bishops strongly urge the Senate "not to move its current health care reform bill forward without incorporating essential changes to ensure that needed health care reform legislation truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all." The bishops conclude: "Until these fundamental flaws are remedied the bill should be opposed."

The bishops' full letter can be read here.

According to the Senate legislation:
  • Federal funds will help subsidize, and in some cases a federal agency will facilitate and promote, health plans that cover elective abortions;
  • All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people's abortions in a very direct and explicit way, through a separate premium payment designed solely to pay for abortion; 
  • There is no provision for individuals to opt out of this abortion payment in federally subsidized plans, so people will be required by law to pay for other people's abortions;
  •  States may opt out of this system only by passing legislation to prohibit abortion coverage;
  • The bill includes no conscience protection allowing Catholic and other institutions to provide and purchase health coverage consistent with their moral and religious convictions on other procedures;
  •  The bill forbids undocumented immigrants from purchasing health care coverage in the exchange;
  • The bill still leaves over 23 million people in our nation without health insurance. This falls far short of what is needed in both policy and moral dimensions.
The Catholic Church for decades has supported reform of the nation's health care system. The Church teaches that basic health care is a fundamental right. The Church has also made clear that any reform of health care delivery in the United States must uphold the life and dignity of all persons, including immigrants, provide conscience protections for those in the health care field, and provide that any reform ensures health care affordability for the poor among us.

Unfortunately, some in Congress are attempting to usurp health care reform in order to alter our nation's long-standing prohibition on taxpayer funded abortion. This is the time to make our Catholic voice heard.

Click here to contact Sens. Levin and Stabenow regarding final passage of the Senate's health care reform legislation.

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