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. Bugl3t

    So, what's new with that? "Moral Majority" churches in states like Missouri, Oklahoma, and the rest of the so-called "Bible Belt" have had political messages on their mega-church signs for decades... all funded by taking "offerings" and then using them for political purposes or for living the wealthy lifestyle.

    Tax-exempt status for churches that do ANYTHING political should be REMOVED, period. What a farce! Like the whole "trickle-down" just don't make us pay taxes say the rich folk and we'll make you rich, too....

    BS! We all know what trickles down and it sure ain't money!

    October 30, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. RJinchi

    Separate of church and State? Churches are not taxed for a reason – When they start telling their "faithful" on what to be believe on the political landscape, they should loose their tax-exempt status.

    October 30, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. Bob

    I don't like paying for wars with my tax dollars or paying subsidies so lazy red necks in Oklahoma get a handout.. Thts life, deal with it.

    October 30, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  4. Bob

    Looks like the church has vast investments in the insurance industry, it figures.

    October 30, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. shmeckel

    The Catholic Church is about as corrupt as our government; But at the same time if you want to kill you children the rest of us don’t want to pay for it. Put the literature in the bill.

    October 30, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  6. Babe

    We are still struggling to bring our health care system into the 21st century. Although a third-world country such as India has managed in the space of less than half a century to go from a new nation attempting to deal with the health care of over 300 million citizens (most of them dirt poor) to becoming a major global player, supplying universal health care to their people and serving as a major supplier of pharmaceuticals, etc., while we are still struggling as the richest nation on earth with taking proper care of our own. We’ve allowed anyone with a voice and pocketbook to sway attitudes and frighten away reform. Aside from the for-profit health insurance industry to the deep-pocketed pharmaceuticals, we can add the Catholic Church, who should not have a place at this table because their interests are too intrinsically tied to their religion in this matter.

    I think it’s time for the government to get brave and take a stand here. Abortion is a legal MEDICAL procedure, and as such, poor women should not be denied care because the Church doesn’t want them to have I, based on a religious point of view. As long as abortion is legal (thank heavens), the Church should not be able to meddle in any women being able to get the procedure because she is too poor. The fact is that in many cases, there is no rape or incest and yet still a need for the procedure from a medical point of view. It is a decision to be made between doctor and patient. And as with all medical advice, if the doctor feels there is a medical reason to have such a procedure, a woman can make up her own mind as to whether to follow that medical advice. I know of a woman who decided not have the abortion she was advised to have. Yes, she had the baby and she was dead a year later from her cancer. What is a case of doing an abortion to save a mother’s life? There was no way to know whether it would actually kill her, but from a medical point of view, an abortion was indeed recommended for medical reasons. This is an intricate enough issue without the Church trying to force its beliefs down the throats of everyone who does not believe as they do.

    October 30, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. Bananarama Victim II: Electric Boogaloo

    This is the same Catholic church, mind you, that everyone was afraid might take over America during JFK's administration. Now we're asking them to weigh-in on Health Care. An organization that opposes science and logic?

    The same religion that gets to transfer their would-be child sex offenders to another church in lieu of jail time or having to register as a sex offender?

    They don't even pay taxes, a core piece of this argument.

    This is no longer a country that values logic over hear-say...

    October 30, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  8. chris

    Why are they against preventing the deaths of how many uninsured Americans every year? Why aren't they against euthanasia? I thought they're "pro-life". Why aren't they against guns??

    October 30, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  9. soonergrunt

    What's the Catholic Church's policy on coverage for sexual abuse counseling?

    October 30, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Jim

    I think many of these comments are taking the story a little out of context. I'm a non-practicing Catholic and all I see is the Church essentially doing what it has always done, promote a pro-lif stance. As far as an actual public option there doesn't seem to be any opposition to that in the article, and the Church isn't backing or supporting any political candidate directly, as I think you'll notice a Democratic Senator from Mich. has a similar view.

    Oh and for the record a pro-choice, Pro gay-marriage Repulican.

    October 30, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. PR

    No shortage of baby killers here. I am not a religous person but do have children. An abortion is hardly a healthcare issue since you reach the condition through choice and, usually, giving birth is not life threatening to the mother. I have no problem with the availability of the procedure, but pay your own way for a change.

    October 30, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  12. Ziggy

    I'm so glad to see so many pointing out that the church is meddling in state business and as such should have their tax exempt status revoked.
    I really wonder how the church would react if their tax exempt status was revoked over this behaviour. Do you suppose they would stick with their current stance or do you think they would choose money over principle? I suspect such a move would show the true color of the church as I believe they would choose the money.
    I left the church many long years ago due to the hypocrisy. I've seen first hand the way the church treated people who could not afford to pay their tithes. I would like nothing more than to see the church or any other religious org loose that tax exempt status for meddling in polotics.
    It is sad to see that religious dogma puts the welfare of actual living people behind their scientifically unproven belief that a fetus is a living being.

    October 30, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. POEMAN

    Most of the people sitting in these Catholic churchs are Republicans that would complain about health care reform anyway so to tell the sheep how to vote is like ..well "preaching to the choir"

    October 30, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Joe

    Let them skirt the line of church and state. Everyone here seems to know this is all BS. If they were to forego their tax free status and start paying taxes, preaching politics from the pulpit would be the least of our problems. They would literally insert themselves into our government.

    October 30, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  15. Tram

    Preaching politics from the pulpit.

    That should take away their tax exempt status.

    October 30, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  16. Wondering

    I thought quite a number of years ago, the Pope had decided that priests were not supposed to get involved in politics. I imagine this doesn't apply to bishops who apparently spend most of their time getting immersed in political issues. And here is my problem: I wonder what ever happened to the proclamation of the Gospel???? One never seems to hear it from the Roman Catholic Bishops.

    October 30, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Patrick - Indianapolis

    Well Duh! EVERYONE knows that Jesus hated the poor and suffering so of course he would be against healthcare reform. Makes perfect sense don't you agree?

    October 30, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  18. John

    Although not a practicing Catholic myself, I do believe that they are being consistent on the point that they do not support legalized abortions and they do not support using their money (via taxes) to perform them. Maybe you could compare it to using taxpayer money to help subsidize the purchase of a football team by Rush Limbaugh. It would be legal, but would you be happy if they did it?

    October 30, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  19. Fools and their freedoms are soon parted

    All this hate speach from you is not suprising being the liberals you are.
    Answer me this if you can. A Fetus or whatever you want to call it, if not MURDERED in the womb is born a human being...why are all you people for murdering your own children and abetting others to murder theirs? This is not about choice, this is about a person's convenience. They have already made that decision when they have unprotected sex. The stats of abortions performed on rapes or insceast or life of mother are miniscule. This is the most cruel sort of child abuse next to child molestation.

    RE:Randolph Carter, I'm no expert, but.... October 30th, 2009 12:57 pm ETAh 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! CNN thinks this is FUNNY?

    October 30, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  20. really?

    let's all pray for the souls of the catholic bishops and priests..........THEY need it............

    October 30, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  21. Brent

    TIme to take away the tax exempt status of these churches. They are clearly engaging in political activity.

    October 30, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  22. Ken in NC

    WOW Everybody wants health care and they all want it their way. Well folks there's bad news in the pipe line for you all.

    YOU AIN'T GONNA GET HEALTHCARE REFORM.

    Now the question is why not. Simply put America, we are not at the Drive-In Window of Burger King placing Health Care orders for every person in the country. Since this isn't Burger King, you don't get it your way. While some want it free, others want abortions included and others don't. Some want cut rates while others want a Caddy Plan. Some want no deductibles while others want no co-pays. Some members of congress want special items in the health care bill for their state

    These are just a few items on the shopping list of things people want in the proposed health care bill. Well Americans while we sit here and argue like fools over every little piece of the pie and who gets how much of it, the wolves (Insurance Companies, Lobbyist, Drug Companies and members in our Senate and House that are on the payroll of these big companies) are working hard to keep us off message and off topic and they are fighting to keep us arguing with each other while they quietly go about their business of killing health care. They are quietly working to make this bill so expensive that none of us would be willing to pay for it. Yes, since they can't stop the bill, they are now working to gored us into laying on the fat possible to the bill so as to cause it’s cost to rise to a point that we will kill it ourselves. They got us to fighting among ourselves, which is not a hard thing to do with Democrats, and then they quietly nudge us on and edge us on until we have beaten ourselves. That is about the only advantage Republicans have over anyone else. Once they make a decision to go in one direction, it makes no difference what is ahead of them, they will follow that chosen person right off a cliff if it will accomplish their goal. People you had better wake up quickly or you we will find ourselves in a pool of quicksand from which we can't extract ourselves. We are spending like there is no tomorrow and at the rate we are spending, there will not be a tomorrow and Republicans don't care as long as they get their tax breaks and their war.

    October 30, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  23. Brent

    The catholic church is worried that if you don't have children the priests won't have anyone to molest.

    October 30, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. J. D.

    I am a Pro-Choice (not pro-abortion) Catholic who goes to mass every Sunday. It is perfectly within right of the Church to offer it's guidelines/opinions to the faithful during mass. There is nothing wrong with the Church telling it's members that they should contact their legislators with concerns about what is in this legislation. I (as well as others) do not need to heed their call. As for other comments regarding the Catholic Church, the list sins is long and inglorious. Complicity in the Holocaust is a regretable piece of history, as are the Inquisition, the sacking of Byzanteum, the Crusades, and the events leading to the Great Schizm and Reformation; but they have no bearing on the topic of the day. The Church is imperfect because it is run by human beings, perfection is not in our nature but with God's grace perfection may be attainable.

    October 30, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. Patrick - Indianapolis

    Little boys do not need to be treated with public healthcare after some jerk priest sodomizes them. Its the true catholic way

    October 30, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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