October 30th, 2009
12:46 PM ET
5 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. Republicans are the American Taliban

    So the Catholic Church can be added to the list with Republicans and Mormons as organizations who want American to die for lack of healthcare...it's the Christian way...

    October 30, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. Kirstie

    Well then, I suppose these churches no longer want their tax-exempt status?

    October 30, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  3. ThinkAgain

    We're a nation of laws and Roe V. Wade is law, legalizing abortion.

    And speaking of laws, I thought churches weren't supposed to tell their parishoners how to vote.

    We also have separation of church and state as explicitly spelled out in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Catch a clue, Catholic Church!

    October 30, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  4. Spirit of America

    Give it a break. This rabid anti-abortion stance only serves to promote real murders, like that of the physician in Kansas who performed this form of health care for women.

    October 30, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  5. Adam

    My tax dollars are used to subsidize Religious institutions which I do not support. Maybe, religions should learn to be more tolerant of others views.

    October 30, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  6. Pete

    If they speak about this in their churches, won't they lose their tax-exempt status? Perhaps if they (and other churches) paid their fair tax share, health care for all could be an affordable reality. The Catholic Church has got some mighty deep pockets.

    October 30, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  7. retphxfire

    Here we go again, the Church smudging the line between separation of church and state. It's illegal for tax-exempt churches to preach this type of political campaign from the pulpit. Since no one seems to get in trouble over it means the Consitution is being ignored. I wish the people and the law would step up opposition. Doesn't matter the subject or whether I agree or not, its just wrong, like the Mormon church's financial and verbal involvement in California's proposition elections. Wrong, wrong, wrong

    October 30, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    Before everyone gets their knickers in a knot, read the bill and then decide.

    I've seen posted elsewhere that "death panels are back" in the House version of the bill.

    Before all the ditto heads and Faux News lemmings start parroting their talking points, read page 129: There never was and never will be a provision for "death panels."

    The bill does provide for advance care planning and explicitly states, "shall not promote suicide, assisted suicide,
    euthanasia, or mercy killing."

    October 30, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. sharon

    So getting health care for almost 40 million more poor people (including children) is not that important to catholic bishops. Better to divide the country with culture wars.

    October 30, 2009 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  10. Houston Mom

    I am here to speak out against Catholic Bishops and Priests. Keep your hocus pocus heavenly mumbo jumbo out of our government. I wouldn't trust a Catholic Priest or Bishop further than I could throw him. You are supposed to care for the welfare of the living FIRST. You have failed again miserably. Shut up, sit down or go away...we don't need you in this nation anymore.

    October 30, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  11. Peter E

    Do these people also speak out against current insurance corporations that cover abortion, and hence force buyers to pay for strangers' abortions? Didn't think so! People tend to have different standards for government and private industry. I challenge you to apply the same criticism to your own health insurance company, and check whether they cover abortions. Chances are, they are in fact using your money for that! So if you're going to criticize government for POSSIBLY paying for something you don't want them to, you should also criticize your own current insurance company as well for what they are ALREADY doing. Fair is fair! (in fact, have you noticed that ALL of the criticisms of the future PLANS for government health insurance are for practices that the current insurance corporations are ALREADY guilty of? But people just love their double standards)

    October 30, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  12. Bob R. Lanham, Maryland

    Those priests need to stick to praying and keep out of politics. They don't have the answers to what is right; they only think they do. For God's sake, they cannot clean up their own "House of God" so stay out of ours.

    October 30, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  13. Carole

    We need to get all religions out of this kind of debate. I am neither for nor anti abortion, I strongly felt it should be individual woman's decision. I am financially and emtionally secure so it is very easy for me to say I am against it.

    October 30, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Proud Boulder Liberal

    Yes, the world isn't really overpopulated, is it?

    We need America to be just like Bangladesh–only Catholic.

    Come on, RC bishops... so many more pressing problems; I think Saint Francis would agree.

    October 30, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Dan

    The Bill does not change the law on abortion. It does not promote nor hinder the practice. I thought that the portion on abortion is benign. It refers to federal health appropiations as guidance on what the public plan covers. Am I reading it wrong?

    October 30, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  16. Ray

    Do the churches these people represent receive "tax exempt" status?
    If so, they have no business trying to legislate moral issues. Laws of the land and laws of God are different, and both need to be respected but not shoved down peoples' throats. No one is going to be forced to pay for or participate in abortion. But the church is trying to dictate how everyone lives...

    October 30, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  17. Punctus

    Approximately 50% of all private health insurance providers cover abortion procedures. Where is the letter from the Bishops asking practicing catholics (I am one) to give up their private insurance?

    October 30, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  18. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but....

    Ah yes, the Catholic church. A progressive institution if there ever was one. Don't get me wrong, I think fetuses are great. Especially sauteed with a little garlic, butter and some fresh taragon. Have a nice day!

    October 30, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  19. Enough

    What part of no federal funds for the procedure do the single-issue miguided not understand? And what about Matthew 25, caring for our neighbors in need?

    Not to mention, this seems to be an questionable infringement on IRS tax-exempt status.

    October 30, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  20. Elisabeth

    It is ABSURD to oppose saving lies by way of a better healthcare system because of vague concerns (which, by the way, are unfounded!) about abortion!

    I am Catholic, but this is just one more way in which my own religion is betraying me!

    October 30, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  21. Dan

    And..on a different matter; Catholic Church – what is its role in the process? I thought that the need of populus to blindly follow the quidance of local priesthood was done away with an upsurge in litteracy. Am I wrong again?

    October 30, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  22. John, Brooklyn, NY

    Correct me if I'm wrong...but isn't this the SAME Catholic Church that refused to give similar pulpit pronouncements condemning the Holocaust while Jews were being shipped off in boxcars? Yeah...I think it is. I guess they have selective attention on issues that they consider to be central to their "values".

    Additionally, they seem to be pathologically obsessed with fetuses. Where is the moral outrage from the Catholic Church about the millions of the "already-born" who literally DIE because they don't have access to basic healthcare. Again....the Catholic Church's values are directed at absolutely the wrong issue.

    Bless them Father...for they have, indeed sinned.

    October 30, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  23. Ben

    The belief that a fetus or a zygote is a person is a religious belief. I find it offensive that they would have their religious belief legislated when Christianity already has such strong arm control of government perspective in general.

    Don't want an abortion? Don't get one. Your belief that a fetus or zygote is a person is NOT universal and to force it on everyone is oppressive.

    October 30, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  24. Mauiharper

    Typical of Catholics who also supported the death camps in Germany before WWII. They care more about unborn fetuses than living people. This is why I left the Catholic Church when I was 15 and never looked back.

    Also, churches should be taxed just like other businesses. The have the best of both worlds, no taxes, but they don't honor the separation of church and state when it comes to our laws. The nerve of them!

    October 30, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  25. neil

    First things first, where is the money coming from, we are broke so how much are the tax increases going to be

    October 30, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
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