October 30th, 2009
12:46 PM ET
4 years ago

Priests urged to speak out against health care legislation

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is starting a campaign against abortion funding in national health care legislation.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is starting a campaign against abortion funding in national health care legislation.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Calling Democratic health care bills "seriously deficient on the issues of abortion and conscience," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging priests around the country to speak out against the legislation from the pulpit this Sunday.

The conference - the leadership body of the Catholic Church in the United States - is distributing a flier to churches to insert in their weekly newsletters urging parishioners to contact their senators and representatives to ask them "to fix these bills with the pro-life amendments."

"The bills will have to change or the bishops have pledged to oppose them," the flier reads. "Our nation is at a crossroads."

Bishops are also planning to take out advertisements in diocesan newspapers with a similar message. "Americans would be forced to subsidize abortions through their taxes and health insurance premiums," the ad claims.

According to the language in the House health care bill unveiled Thursday, a government-run insurance option could cover abortions, but federal money would not pay for the procedure.

Abortion opponents dispute that and point to the non-partisan FactCheck.org, which wrote in late August that "private plans that cover abortion also could be purchased with the help of federal subsidies." Those subsidies, the site wrote, would be available to low and middle-income Americans who sign up for a public insurance option.

Abortion rights opponents in Congress, including Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, have been pushing leaders to add stronger language prohibiting the use of federal money to pay for abortions under new health care reforms.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for Rep. Lois Capps, a Democrat who crafted the abortion funding language in the House bill, stressed that public funding cannot be used to fund abortions. She said qualifying low and middle-income Americans will be able to buy into an insurance exchange where they will have access to at least one plan that does cover abortions services and one that does not.

Capps' office said federal and private funds are kept separately in the exchange: abortion services could be paid for by private funds generated by patient premiums, and no one would receive a federal subsidy directly to do so.


Filed under: Health care
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Howie

    The Democrats still don't get it, read the comments. I find it unbeliveable they can support such a bill. Do they not understand what it is going to do to their children and grand children, apparently not! Their future family members are going to suffer because of bills such as these.

    October 30, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. Johnbo

    Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has no problem with a pre-emptive war that violated international laws (or lying to generate support for it), no problem with torture of prisoners or indefinite detention of them – again, in violation of international laws, no problem with the assassination program of the CIA, no problem with the often poorly administered death penalty, and no problem with national policies that hurt the poor and destroy the environment. And, they have no problem violating the separation of church and state as specified in our Constitution (they campaigned openly for George W. Bush). They do, however, have a problem with a bill that doesn't REQUIRE OR FORCE abortion but makes it possible for some to choose abortion???

    If Jesus returns, he's going to be really pi**ed!!

    October 30, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  3. elbon

    It would be nice if the Catholic church was as concerned and vocal about about abusing children as they are about health care.

    October 30, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. richard

    It is time to start taxing churches.

    October 30, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. Mike

    I'm not very comfortable with the Catholic Church as a lobbying group. What's next on the agenda, inquisition? You know that all those priests are going to preach about is killing babies when the abortion debate is about so much more than that.

    October 30, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  6. conniesz

    Americans are forced to subsidize war and execution – I don't see why abortion is such a special case – we all are forced to support some form of killing that we don't agree with. It's part of what democracy is all about – everyone takes a little and gives a little.

    October 30, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  7. Concerned

    Want an abortion? Be responsible or pay for it yourself, not with my money.

    October 30, 2009 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  8. george from alaska

    if the bill included a thumbs up for foot tapping a buddy in the next bathroom stall or fondling a kid then those holier than though nut jobs would be all for it!

    October 30, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. Concerned

    And for those of you who really care about the tax exempt status... The Catholic church DOES pay taxes on a portion of their income specifically to be able to take a stand on issues such as these.

    October 30, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  10. KTX

    I have never seen so much ignorance and hatred from people who fancy themselves "progressive." The Holocaust comparisons are telling, because the people who are clamoring against the Church for getting involved in the abortion debate are the same type of people the Church feared upsetting during World War II. Rabid abortionists, like their Nazi and other "death as a solution" forebears, must be opposed in the public square. Three cheers for the Catholic church for learning its lesson from the past, and staunchly defending the dignity of all human persons – even in the face of a strident and ignorant mob!

    October 30, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. Peter

    The Catholic Church is falling apart.
    Churches closing for lack of Priests, Sexual deviants costing them untold millions for their cover up, and questionable collections at services causing some members to get angry. Sounds like they are moving beyond the intentions of scripture. No wonder people are leaving the church.

    October 30, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    I could care less about the Catholic Church thinks in regards to the proposed health care legislation. The issue is to provide quality healthcare coverage for all Americans. Religion has no place in this debate. I refuse to allow any religous group or organization to limit my options in regards to future health care. Pro Life, please!!! If they are really concerned concerned about life they should stand up in church this Sunday and urge every parishoner who is financially able to adopt at least one child from foster care. That would approve the lives of countless children. The church's are tax-exempt, in my personal opionion they should leave politics alone.

    October 30, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  13. Mark

    Giving the gov't more control over health care will just be another tax payer sink hole!

    October 30, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  14. Jim

    This is exactly why I no longer consider myself a Catholic. I will not give one more dime to a "Charity" that cares more about influencing public opinion on political matters than it does about the welfare of tens of millions of Americans. Christ taught again and again about how to care for him by caring for the poor, the sick and the oppressed. The Catholic Church (not the Catholic Religion – I do want to maker the distinction) is misguided by people who do not abide by Christ's teachings. These people are the epitome of hypocrisy!

    October 30, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. cn8of10

    Such hypocrisy!! The Catholic church should concentrate its efforts on cleaning up its own house before they try to influence public policy that impacts the rest of us. If they want to make any measurable impact on the rate of abortion then they should try doing a better job of attracting new and young members to their faith instead of trying to pander to their political allies.

    October 30, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. Augustine

    How can you morally be against health care for all in this country. Isn't the church supposed to stand up for social and economic justice? A person is not forced to have an abortion, they have a choice not to. It is no surprise that the Catholic Church has ceased being a relevant moral force.

    October 30, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  17. sean

    This perversion that says we'll go to the mat to save a a pair of cells, but ignore everything that happens after birth is utterly irrational. Get your church out of my healthcare!

    October 30, 2009 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  18. nancy

    I thank God every day that I am Catholic. Bless the bishops for standing up for what is right, even if it is not politically correct.

    October 30, 2009 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. Tom in Va

    This is EXACTLY why the catholic church is failing. Here is a chance to help the poor and the sick...the VERY people that the Lord says we must help. I was raised catholic. I'll never go to their church again. If they were a US corporation, most of them woul dbe in JAIL.

    the catholic church is NOT pro-life! They are anti-abortion. There is a HUGE difference!

    HYPOCRITES! You say you follow theLord's teaching. You don't come close!

    October 30, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. vivian

    This kind of a stance from men who protected the pedophiles among them should be given precisely the respect they have given to people who are living now and who need health care now - none. It is this attitude toward the rights of women that led me to leave the church for one that is more loving and respectful. Bishops and Pope Benedict need to understand that as many - or more - people are leaving the Roman Catholic Church to join the Episcopal Church in the United States or the Anglican Communion in other countries as are traveling the other direction. And it's precisely because of public stances like this one.

    If the Roman Catholic Church can preach politics from the pulpit (or any other church for that matter), then they should be subject to the same taxes that other businesses and residents of this country are required to pay.

    October 30, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  21. Jane/Seattle

    The Catholic Church and many others here have always had a dirty hand in politics and business. Just ask the Guatamalan composinos who were betrayed by United Fruit and the Catholic church during the Sandinista struggle. The U.S. co-opted this country, drove folks from their own land to put attack and supply bases to launch yet another deadly action in capitalistic hubris and CIA meddling where we do not belong. Read this book for the details. It is an older book, but still available. "Don't Be Afraid, Gringo" tells the sorry tale of the hypocrisy and lying that Americans tended to believe in the many years our government interferes, and still does, in other lands for theft of resources and profits to the corporatocracy. Now, one who knows will never be surprised that such a wealthy business like this church would not REALLY support the works of Jesus in reality. Do good with one hand and do robbery with the other. My apologies to the honest, sincere among this church. Nice religions we have-just more capitalists with a tax exemption for the good they may do as a front for other "investments"!!!!! I was raised and educated in this Catholic Dogma. I know the story! Peace

    October 30, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  22. frisky

    Tax exempt status, say goodbye to the Catholic Church, and the Mormon church while you are at it.

    October 30, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  23. Tommygunn

    If the only issue is "Abortion" from the religious perspective, does that require speaking out against the entire bill?

    The "Abortion" is being revamped, but the suggestion party always leave that topic lingering on for sensationalism.

    I can see the church going against the "Abortion" clause, but to speak totally against the bill is a bit too much on the wordly side.....

    October 30, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  24. Cheryl

    The Catholic Church, like other organized religions, should stick to offering spiritual guidance and comfort to their followers and stay out of the lives of the general public.

    October 30, 2009 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. Gypsy

    I could never figure out why Republicans were against abortions and Democrats would defend it as a matter of choice because if abortions was banned the African-American and Latino population would spike and we know how they vote.
    If it was totally allowed Democrats would lose the opportunity to have a permanent majority, with the help of these two population groups.
    So in the real world Democrats should be seeking to abolish abortions and Republicans should be pro-abortion.

    October 30, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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