October 30th, 2009
12:46 PM ET
9 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. Don

    The dangers of religion...

    October 30, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. Paul

    Catholic Church? They supported the Holocaust, they supported "colonization" in Africa, they DIDn't send fliers against Bush and republicans for refusing to support the Children Insurance to show how pro-life they are. What time they have for God when they are spending time behind little boys and girls? Remember Dr. Gibson of Focus on Families who asked his followers to pray for rain during Democratic convention! It didn't rain that day and Mr. Gibson is now Prophet of BAAL.


    October 30, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. once upon a horse

    I have often wondered why those on the right always claim they want smaller goverment, for goverment to BUTT OUT of their personal lives, YET have no problem telling a woman she has to carry a child for 9 months no matter how the child was made, even if it was due to a savage crime, and also tell them who they can or can not marry. To me THESE are personal issues and goverment should not have any say so in it. On the other hand goverment should not pay for these personal decisions either. Seems that the latter is the big worry here.

    October 30, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. Ryan

    Wait... they're concerned about saving lives (i.e. fetuses) at the expense of ...lives (i.e. People who are sick and die from not being able to afford healthcare)??

    Why are these so-called Christians screaming they believe in Jesus for everything and yet don't follow ANY of his teachings (heal the sick, help the poor)!?!?

    And why are they ignoring the memo of the hide amendments that prevent abortions being funded by tax payers??

    What on earth makes them think abortion is some off-handed sport that girls opt for because they're bored? Trust me, no woman on the planet doesn't think it through and bear the consequences. To assume as much is an insult to womankind.

    These are the same zealots that claim they value life yet were fervent in the war against Islam when we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan.

    No wonder why they love Republicans and Conservative voters... hypocrites can't get enough of each other's company!!

    October 30, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  5. frank

    Dear Think Again: Here is a NEWS FLASH: There never were "death panels" in any health care legislation. Not then, not now, not ever.

    October 30, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  6. S Callahan

    I am so smiling....God's people have arised! Our President gave HIS WORD that no abortion will be paid for by federal dollars...yet this has not been outlined with the t's and i's, in writing, to any bills presented so far....it will not pass without this condition met. God's spirit is sweeping over this nation and waking the nation to him...he is no fool....His wrath is great despite his patience. CNN...priests also include many leaders of many denominational and no demoninational groups as well, along with their parishoneirs..be a little honest in your story writing.

    October 30, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. Rebecca

    So, is the church a lobbiest now? A political action committee? Just curious.

    October 30, 2009 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  8. Hypocritical Libs2

    Wow, I just read a bunch of hate-filled lib comments. Misinformation, lies, accusations and intolerance.

    And you call yourselves the party of compassion. Unfortunately, the stats say something quite different. Conservatives donate much more to the poor than Liberals, even though libs hold a slight advantage on income.

    Obama and Biden donated almost nothing (Obama: 1.6% until the election year and Biden: $300 in used clothes every year).

    October 30, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  9. who the f cares

    who cares what a retard in a funny robe thinks

    October 30, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. ATS

    I know. The Catholic Church is a favorite target. But did you ever stop to consider that this article is totally biased? The Catholic Church SUPPORTS health care for all. In fact, it provides health care to poor people all over the world. The Catholic Church also fights for human rights of all people all over the world. This includes the unborn! I know its much more convenient to see a fetus as "tissue" with no rights. The same people who think fetuses have no rights change their mind as soon as the baby is outside a woman's body. No logical discontinuity there!
    Instead of fighting for the poor, the powerless, and the condemned, the Catholic Church should be more like other "Christian" churches who side with the Republicans, who basically tell the poor and powerless "Tough, if you're poor its your own fault! We're not doing anything to help you!"

    October 30, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  11. Grahame

    These people believe that the Lord God, ruler and creator of all the heavens and everything that's in it, wants the sachrine adoration of his subjects and if he doesn't get it then turns petulant and angry. Yet this notion without a single fact to support it has created the most useless conniving untaxed industry in the entire hystory of the world.

    As I read the comments written here I do not see one single instance of support for the Catholic Church. Every single conflict and war in the hystory of the human race has some sort of a religious element to it anyway and this is no different. According to scripture, "In order to enter the kingdom of heaven, one must become as a little child." Which translates into no personal will or identity, just the ability to blindly follow the churches teaching.
    The people who promote this kind of nonsense are just the same as Jim Jones or David Koresh. In case you have forgotten recent hystory
    Catholic Priest equates with the child abuse and sodomy of little boys
    inn their care.

    October 30, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  12. Hanging in there - Change is a slow process

    I'm getting real tired of the churches endorsing candidates or trying to influence political affairs.

    It's time to either revoke these churches non profit status and have the pay taxes or enforce a seperation of church and state.

    Real simple, you endorse candidates or speak out on political matters representing the church you lose your tax free status.

    October 30, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. Michael - Portage, Mi

    A bunch of insular, old, white men being out of touch with reality???...how surprising....

    October 30, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  14. JM

    Hypocrates. It was OK for Obama to try to get the Church's to speak in support of this bill but not ok for them to speak against it. You can't have it both says.

    October 30, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  15. Bill/SoCal

    Whatever happened to the seperation of church and state? It was seen as essential for a reason, but I suppose the looney right knows better than our founding fathers?

    Any church that engages in political speech should have their tax-exempt status revoked, period.

    October 30, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  16. Grog in Ohio

    Hmm... okay, I get the iron clad opposition to abortion. But what about the thousands of already born people that die because they have no health insurance? Perhaps the bishops should start a new group health care plan to cover all currently un-covered Americans... funded by the US Catholic church, of course.

    October 30, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Diane

    Nice to see the RCC hasn't lost sight of its priorities: working against abortion and "the gay menace" regardless of the collateral damage. It opposes the death penalty as well as abortion, but never seems to get riled up about politicians who support it, as long as that politician opposes abortion. It believes in caring for the needy but urges the flock to support candidates opposed to abortion who also think it's perfectly reasonable to let poor kids starve. That they are considered to have any claim to moral authority in these matters astounds me.

    October 30, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  18. k

    Hey, don't poke the catholics too much for pressing their influence into government affairs. They've just been the most successful at over the last 20 centuries.

    After all, all religions are based on the same business model: "I have the ear of XXXX (fill-in the name of the supreme being of your choice), so you better obey me and pay me a tithe or: your crops will fail; your teeth will fall out; your dog will die; you will burn in the fires of hell for ALL ETERNITY! You decide which ill fate you will risk.

    Like the rest of us, the RC Church leadership is perfectly fine with letting the managers at for-profit health insurance companies decide who gets what treatment, and who gets a policy. Basically for-profit "Death Panels". They do this quietly and efficiently by denying care and increasing premiums in order to maximize the return on the investment of stockholders. That's the job of a for-profit company, to maximize profits by any legal means. In the current system, that HAS to mean that grandma may not really need that pacemaker, because she's probably doesn't have many years left anyway. Much better to add those dollars to the executive team's compensation package, or as dividends for the stock-owners.

    I just wonder, "What would Jesus do?"

    October 30, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  19. Lilybart

    to the Catholic Bishops, death is not a bad thing. They love women who risk death to birth a problem baby.

    AFter all, you go to Jesus, so why would they care that many die from lack of affordable health care?

    They only care about your soul and if you abort, you go to hell.

    Women dying in childbirth....that's OK.

    October 30, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  20. rick

    Are these the same people who were having sex with children?

    October 30, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  21. John a recovering Catholic

    I can't stand this health bill particularly the gov taking an active role. They should make rules and regulations but leave the business to the private free market sector.
    Now for the church. They should have zero say. They have their own problems to fix. I dealt with that back stabbing religion for too long.

    October 30, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  22. Josh

    Wow, lots of anti-Catholicism going on here. Correct me if I'm wrong, but they aren't trying to prevent the Health Care Reform, simply change some of the wording right? Which is what most of the Democrats in Congress are currently trying to do. It's not just the Republican side that there has been discontent with this policy.

    While no Catholic, I guess I don't have a problem with any organization, tax-free or not, giving an opinion on what people should do. I believe in the freedom of speech and that people should be able to speak their minds. And to the Catholics, this is an important message and they are more than welcome to express their anti-abortion opinion and attempt to convince others to do the same. One of the things I love about this country.

    October 30, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  23. Fools and their freedoms are soon parted

    BTW HIstory lesson: when Jefferson was speaking of a wall between church and state he was talking about a state sponsered religion...he was responding to a concern people had that their 1st Amendment rights would not be trampled by the federal government....Jefferson wanted freedom for people to practice their religion or lack of religion.... seems a pity that people are always using this quote to advance their own agenda and to discriminate against people who are religious.

    October 30, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. Lloyd Roberts Jamaica NY

    Isn't the church tax exempt, not like the rest of us who can call our senators and congressman because we pay them. Also, I'm glad to see that the church cares more about the health of the unborn than the healthcare of the one's that have already been born. Isn't the Catholic churches mission to help thy fellow man. Ensuring adequate health care to those in need would seem to be a way to do that. Guess the unborn is more important when you're trying to collect political points. Oh, did i mention they are tax exempt

    October 30, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. Seperation of church and state

    The second churches turn political, it's time for them to pay taxes.

    October 30, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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