The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is calling on Catholics nationwide “to prevent healthcare reform from being derailed by the abortion lobby,” the conference said over the weekend.
The unprecedented campaign encompasses 19,000 parishes across the United States, and asks the faithful to fight for restrictions on abortion funding in the health care bills by contacting their congressmen.
“The bishops want health care reform, but they recoil at any expansion of abortion,” explained Helen Osman, USCCB Secretary for Communications.
The bishops have already told Congress in a letter, “If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously.”
The time line for influencing members of Congress appears to be short, with a vote on the bill expected in the next days.
The Catholic bishops are also pushing for affordability, access to health care for legal immigrants and the protection of consciences.
“Genuine health care reform is much needed and should protect the life and dignity of all people from the moment of conception until natural death. Mandated coverage for abortion should be excluded and longstanding policies against abortion funding and supporting conscience rights should be included. No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion,” they said, reiterating that no current bill meets these criteria.
This effort by the U.S. Catholic Bishops comes just at the time that Nebraska late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart was present at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s press conference in support of her new health care reform bill, a pro-life group reports.
Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America (CWA), spotted Carhart holding a sign at the Thursday morning press conference in support of Speaker Pelosi’s proposal.
He is currently under investigation by the Nebraska Attorney General for unsafe medical practices. He allegedly allowed non-licensed persons to give injections, start IVs, and administer controlled substances.
A CWA picture of Carhart shows him at the press conference holding a sign for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).
RCRC says on its website that it is “deeply troubling” that coverage for abortions remains “unsettled.” It endorses the “status quo” of funding abortion with federal dollars only in cases of rape, incest, and to save the life of a woman.
However, at present the health care reform bill lacks a Hyde Amendment or other explicit prohibitions on abortion funding. The Associated Press has reported that the proposed House health care legislation would create “a new stream of federal funding” not covered by current abortion funding restrictions.
Wendy Wright charged that Speaker Pelosi’s bill has gained the support of “the nation’s most notorious partial-birth abortionist.”
“Pelosi’s bill can now be rightly called an abortionist’s dream,” she added. “Under her bill, government money will pay for abortions, even the kind that Carhart commits — late-term abortions against viable babies that put women’s health at risk.”
Carhart’s legal challenge to a federal ban on partial-birth abortions was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court by a 5-4 vote in 2007.