WASHINGTON — Three bills currently in the U.S. House of Representatives would help ensure that adequate protections are in place for the consciences of taxpayers and health care providers and against federal funding of abortion. In three letters, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), urged House members to support the bills.
The Protect Life Act, H.R. 358, Cardinal DiNardo wrote in a January 20 letter, would address flaws in the new health care reform law and bring it “into line with policies on abortion and conscience rights that have long prevailed in other federal health programs.” It would do so by preventing funds under the new law from subsidizing abortion or health care plans that cover abortion, protecting the consciences of health care providers who decline to participate in an abortion, and ensuring that the law doesn’t override state laws on abortion and conscience.
The full text of Cardinal DiNardo’s letter on the Protect Life Act is at: www.usccb.org/healthcare/DiNardo-HR358-ltr.pdf
In a second letter January 20, Cardinal DiNardo urged support for the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA), H.R. 361, which will codify into law the longstanding policy of the Hyde/Weldon amendment and give health care entities that do not provide abortions legal recourse when faced with government-sponsored discrimination. The Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services would be designated to investigate complaints.
“Passage of ANDA is urgently needed to protect the civil rights of health professionals and other health care entities,” the cardinal wrote. “This bill reaffirms a basic principle: No health care entity should be forced by government to perform or participate in abortions.”
Full text of the ANDA letter is at: www.usccb.org/conscienceprotection/cardinal-dinardo-HR361-ltr.pdf
In a January 21 letter, Cardinal DiNardo also voiced his support for the bipartisan No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, H.R. 3, which would “write into permanent law a policy on which there has been strong popular and congressional agreement for over 35 years: The federal government should not use taxpayers’ money to support and promote elective abortion.” The cardinal wrote, “Even public officials who take a ‘pro-choice’ stand on abortion, and courts that have insisted on the validity of a constitutional ‘right’ to abortion, have agreed that the government can validly use its funding power to encourage childbirth over abortion.”
Cardinal DiNardo noted that this agreement is so longstanding that, during the recent health care debate, many assumed it was already in place at all levels of the federal government, when in fact the Hyde amendment is only a rider to the annual Labor/HHS appropriations bill and only governs funds under that act.
The cardinal noted, “The benefit of H.R. 3 is that it would prevent problems and confusions on abortion funding in future legislation. Federal health bills could be debated in terms of their ability to promote the goal of universal health care, instead of being mired in debates about one lethal procedure that most Americans know is not truly ‘health care’ at all.”
The letter on H.R. 3 is available online at: www.usccb.org/prolife/DiNardo-HR3.pdf