October 30th, 2009
12:46 PM ET
8 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. Gary

    How come the church is silent about pedophiles?

    October 30, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. Carmen, Miami FL

    Speaking as a lapsed Catholic (current quasi-agnostic with traditional Catholic leanings), this makes me angry and just reinforces why I can't stand any religion these days. The fact is that abortion is a legal option in most cases, period. End of story. There's no reason why it shouldn't be included in any government plan because most private plans cover them. What makes me even more angry is that, as has been pointed out many times before, Catholics aren't speaking out louder against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are they? What about sanctity of life in those cases?

    Catholics should concern themselves with what happens after an unplanned baby is born, like child poverty and–here's a thought–access to affordable health care. I find it disgusting that they would lobby against a health care plan that would help cover the uninsurable over this issue. This just makes the Church seem so restrictive and hostile to women facing a horrible choice, and uncaring about the realities of life.

    October 30, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  3. opticecho

    totally absurd! I think Jesus would be for helping the poor and the sick, rather than continuing to make the rich richer ...

    October 30, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. mar

    Catholic's and their coat-hanger politics need to sit back and chill

    October 30, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  5. Scarecrow

    By this logic, it is also true that if you gave everyone a $250 cash rebate to stimulate the economy, some people who needed/wanted an abortion could use that money for that purpuse. Therefore, the Bishops would conclude we should not stimulate the economy with cash rebates.

    Or extensions of unemployment insurance

    Or expanded eligiblity for Medicare, because that would free up dollars that might otherwise have gone to other payments that can now be use for abortions.

    Or food stamps, because that frees up money for . . .

    Or any tax reduction

    Shorter Bishops: we oppose any government system that helps anyone pay for anything they need, because they might spend it on something we oppose.

    October 30, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. John Henderson

    The Catholic Church cannot lobby politicians in this way. It is against the mission of the church, and it is in direct opposition to the tax exempt status they enjoy. If the Catholic church wishes to continue to impose a rabid, radical and false agenda on its members, then it should do so while paying taxes as other corporations do.

    The church has gotten away with this for years - telling their members NOT to vote for Democratic candidates for President. It's time to put a stop to their illegal political activity, or begin to collect taxes on their income and property. That would certainly put a dent in funding the reform we so desperately need.

    October 30, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. SMC, central PA

    Don't something like HALF of all zygotes/fetuses self-abort in the early weeks of pregnancy anyhow? Just wait till these crazies want to legislate forcing healthcare onto pregnant women whose fetuses would otherwise not normally carry to term.

    October 30, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  8. Sandra,Atlanta

    I have a great idea on how to reduce insurance and medicare costs. Don't pay for Viagra either in addition to abortions! Why should my tax dollars be used for either of those? I really don't think it's medically necessary (except to these old, primarily white guys).

    Oh, but it's primarily those old white guys who make the rules!

    October 30, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. Bethie

    My days of giving to my local Catholic church is gone.........

    October 30, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  10. proud dem in nc

    Too bad these holier than thou Bishops weren't as concerned with the numerous pedophile priests that were molesting children, while they turned away and pretended it wasn't happening. I am a Catholic and I can't stand these Bishops telling me what to think and what not to think. . They sit in the lap of luxury, with their health care plans, while begrudiging poor people theirs. Hypocrits!!!

    October 30, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. Jillie28

    I'm Catholic....this isn't right.

    October 30, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. proud dem in nc

    They love their tax exempt status.!! Wise up Bishops this is why people are leaving the church.

    October 30, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  13. REG in Az

    Regardless of political preferences, regardless of personal biases, prejudices and emotional attachments, most everyone would prefer our politicians to honestly and effectively be sincere in concentrating on what is best for the people – not just for some of the people but rather for all of the people. Most, when rational and objective, totally understand that it calls for conscientious, unselfish and sincere negotiation, requiring some give-and-take and with the results being compromises that aren’t weighted solely for political or personal benefit, and especially not for Special Interests’, no matter how much support they give the politicians. What has to be seen is that can only be done when extremes are drastically softened and moderation is the rule, with something more centrist being the only logical possibility. To accomplish that people need to understand that they must control the politicians and not just let the politicians control or simply manipulate public opinion for their own purposes. Without dwelling on it but just to remind of the clear and regrettable example of how completely Bush-Cheney, with the stubborn and irresponsibly arrogant total support of the Republican Party, were able to use deceptive manipulation that literally cost all of us so much – “more of the same’ should never be acceptable. We now really need to correct the flagrant abuses implemented that allowed for the considerable benefit of just the few and instead make significant progress back towards the middle, otherwise we will keep sliding down to disaster (which isn’t far away).

    Currently we see contentious and aggressive debate stubbornly offered to sway (manipulate) public opinion in the disputes over achieving success in Afghanistan and Iraq, in rescuing our finances and with Health Care reform, all with belligerent finger pointing and without any concessions. These are very complex and important issues that stand to greatly impact each of us, future generations and even the world for some time to come. Neither side is perfect or without fault and neither is pure in not trying to manipulate public opinion. The first thing that is absolutely necessary is to be cynical about anything they say, judging what it does for them and for the Special Interests who support them, judging how much hype and deception versus fact their positions represent and then judging their history and what that says versus their currently offered rhetoric. They should all be held to compromise and to be honest and conscientious with the people’s interests sincerely foremost on their minds. Wherever, and there are many obvious cases to be seen, it is determined that their positions are solely for their own interests or those of the few, with their stated positions being to block/obstruct progress, refuse compromise, focus on faulting their opponents and/or just offering subterfuge to manipulate the people, then they should be advised that their deception and irresponsibility is recognized and will result in their being rejected at the polls. Otherwise the people are co-responsible in failing to make any progress and just ending up with ‘more of the same’.

    October 30, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  14. matthew

    Catholics have the right to advertise and vote their conscience. The separation of church and state (not in the Constitution, but in a letter by Thomas Jefferson) means that there won't be a state run religion.

    Notice all the hypocritical liberal posters can attack the Catholic church (defame, name call and lie). The party of tolerance? Yeah right.

    October 30, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  15. K Ols

    Why did GWB start the Faith Based Iniative if church and state are separate yet he got by with it and now Obama is carrying it along? The government should never be supporting churches & their charities.
    As for the abortion business, why do people who don't believe in abortions have to subsidize people who get one? This has been going on for a long time because our government gives tax dollars to the insurance companies. As someone said up thread, why aren't you protesting your own insurance company if they cover abortions if you don't agree with the procedure?
    Personally, why should I pay for someone to get an abortion? Those churches that agree with abortion should fund abortions for their own members and not be using my money from the Faith Based Iniative. Isn't this the same thing as my insurance plan that doesn't cover dental or optical? If they don't cover that than why do I pay for people to get abortions under an insurance program?

    October 30, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  16. Elaine

    I was raised Catholic, gradeschool, high school and college but I do not consider myself one any longer. The Catholic Church always took a stance for the poor and the helpless but now they are more concerned about something that I am not even sure is in this bill. I know of very few insurance plans that cover abortion, except in the instance where it is necessary (necessary!) to save the live or ensure the health of the mother. How many would want their daughter to lose her life, along with her unborn child's. This is extremism and I suspect most Catholics agree with me.

    October 30, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. grammarian

    As a Catholic . . . I fear certain church leaders are functioning as yes-men for the Republican Party. Since I don't want to financially support the GOP . . . I'm reluctant to financially support the Catholic Church.

    October 30, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. Greg Andersen

    This is not the Catholic church talking; this is the republican political party’s secret weapon. Use Jesus and guilt to win a political battle. I wonder if Jesus ever gets tired of being used like a grease rag and discarded when not needed?


    October 30, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. OldUncleTom

    Churches that play politics should also pay taxes... plain and simple.

    Now that is deficit reduction I can get behind!!

    October 30, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. Elaine

    And one more thing...would you want to be on a machine that breathes for you, a feeding tube that nourishes you as you lie in a hospital room unconscious and possibly brain dead while a hospital takes your estate money until it is used up then says, " time to pull the plug."

    A "death panel" is nothing more than an "advance directive" telling doctors what care YOU want at the end of your life. They are call "living wills" in some quarters and there are terrible horror stories of what happens when hospitals refuse to honor them. Be sure yours is in order. As the preacher said in Polyanna, "Death comes unexpectedly."

    October 30, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. Unlimited

    I want every Catholic Priest, Nun, Cardinal, Bishop, Arch-Bishop and the Pope brought up on Racketteering charges....maybe a couple high profile RICO trials will get these fantasy obessed, pedophile-hiding bubbleheads to pay their fair share of taxes or keep their fairytales to themselves!!

    October 30, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  22. SensibleJoe

    Roman Catholicism would do better to get its own house in order regarding pedophilia and do much more to take care of the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the homeless, the sick and the jailed among the unwanted and neglected born - as Jesus taught - instead of playing politics with the unborn and abortion.

    October 30, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  23. Jack in Florida

    What happened to separationof church and state??????

    October 30, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  24. Dave

    The last thing that Jesus would have wanted was for people to have health care.

    October 30, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  25. stephen gerrard

    Tax the churches – they are in the game so they can pay to play.

    October 30, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
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