March 17th, 2010
04:37 PM ET
3 years ago

Nuns break with bishops over health care bill

A progressive Catholic advocacy organization announced Wednesday that a group of Catholic nuns is supporting the Senate health care reform bill backed by President Obama.
A progressive Catholic advocacy organization announced Wednesday that a group of Catholic nuns is supporting the Senate health care reform bill backed by President Obama.

Washington (CNN) – A group of Catholic nuns is urging Congress to pass health care reform, breaking ranks with bishops who say the current bill does not do enough to block federal money from being used to fund abortions.

"We write to urge you to cast a life-affirming 'yes' vote when the Senate health care bill (H.R. 3590) comes to the floor of the House for a vote as early as this week," a group of nuns wrote in a letter to members of Congress released Wednesday by NETWORK, progressive Catholic advocacy organization.

NETWORK said the 55 signatories represent tens of thousands of Catholic nuns in the United States.

The letter argues that the legislation "will make crucial investments in community health centers that largely serve poor women and children."

"And despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions," the letter reads. "It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments – $250 million – in support of pregnant women. This is the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it."

The nuns are siding with the Catholic Health Association, a group representing Catholic hospitals, which offered its support for reform earlier this week.

Both groups are diverging from the powerful U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which stepped up its criticism of the bill in recent days. The president of the bishops conference, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, said Monday that the bill's language on abortion is not restrictive enough to satisfy Catholics.

"It expands federal funding and the role of the federal government in the provision of abortion procedures," George said in a statement. "In so doing, it forces all of us to become involved in an act that profoundly violates the conscience of many, the deliberate destruction of unwanted members of the human family still waiting to be born."

Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN


Filed under: Abortion • Health care • Popular Posts
soundoff (176 Responses)
  1. Bernard

    We Catholics should have let women start running the Church centuries ago!

    March 17, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  2. bill

    wow! one of the first times Im proud to say I was raised Catholic! Again, its the insight and reason of women that have to lead the way

    March 17, 2010 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  3. Dee

    God Bless you Sister's, what if everyone was of like mind. "Oh, maybe to much to hope for but I still have "HOPE".

    March 17, 2010 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  4. juge

    Women are so much smarter than men!!!!!!!!!!! They think of all, while men only think of THEMSELVES!

    March 17, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  5. Peggy - TX

    dar "You Dems are so funny, first you curse the ground that christains walk on and now you praise them for doing something wrong. Whos the real devil here?"

    Ansewer – Republicans !!!!
    Dar, you only hear what you want to hear, what makes you the claiiss idio that votes agaist your self intertest bcasue you belive repub lies.

    Maybe some where you can find a Dem that does not like Christains, but you would have a very difficult time doing so.

    I think that when any Head of a Church starts tell its followwers who to vote for, the Church is then tained as the heads of that Churches are likely to be selected by the powerful w/in the church for political reasons – evail reasons!!!

    It is a bit scary that the head of another country, even if they call them selves Pope and self proclaimsed voice of GOD, starts telling Americans who to vote for and a bunch of Americans do as they are told. Evil is as evail does!!!

    Bravo to the Nuns, who show that they have a individual voice, are confident in thier personal relaitionship with thier GOD, are intelligent to see that the heal care bill is good for Amerioca, and care enough about thier neighbor to say so.

    March 17, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  6. Michael from Ventura

    Way to go Sisters! Time to be REAL.

    March 17, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  7. The Dude Abides

    MikeH is such a big tough guy on an internet posting board.

    Stop ripping other people's opinions. Post yours and move on.

    You have no more actual information than anyone else on this subject.

    Health Care is totally irrelevant when Unemployment sits over 9%, but Obama has brainwashed his followers into believing Health Care in 2013 in more important than Unemployment in 2010.

    March 17, 2010 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  8. charlotte, nc

    hey david –

    you can also not be catholic and get a divorce, have sex before marriage, use contraception, be homoesexual, lie, etc – the list goes on!!! let's get realistic here – i highly doubt there are many catholics are perfect.

    so i guess no matter what all catholics are going to hell for one reason or another.

    March 17, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  9. Michelle

    Marty,

    You really don't know much!!

    1. The Hyde Amendment is signed EVERY YEAR into law. It is not a standing law, all it takes is Obama not signing it one year.

    2. Malpractice reform is NOT in the bill. It is up to REVIEW.

    Get your facts straight Marty!!

    March 17, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  10. Jesus(the Zombie version)

    @ K in CA
    :-)

    I'm just showing everyone who is ok with letting 18,000 people die every year to save a little tax money what they look and sound like.

    It would be much scarier if they actually took it to heart, but like I said:

    Money > Human Life

    March 17, 2010 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. Fitz in Texas

    Stacey March 17th, 2010 4:59 pm ET

    The Democrats are going to get clobbered in the 2010 elections.
    ______________________________________________________

    LOL! No they won't because the 31 million americans who will finally get health care will vote for the Dems and that's what you republicans are so scared of. Go Nuns!!
    ******************************************
    Wrong, not 31 million Americans, more like 6 to 8 million Americans. And most of them choose not to pay for health care because they get it free in the emergency room at the hospital. Ever walk into the emergency room at a hospital. Not one of those people are turned away and are treated. And yes the Democrats will get clobbered in the 2010 elections.

    March 17, 2010 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. Lets all call Limbaugh and crash his computor system

    Good for the sisters,they are much smarter than priests.

    March 17, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  13. STEPHANIE

    mother theresa would turn over in her grave over these nuns and what they think,maybe they should just leave the the sisterhood and go out into the real world. what is your life about?what are your vows about? mother angelica would really have a few words to say to you. no more funding for the nuns when they retire.

    March 17, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. Dee

    Sue, you really should read more, or maybe I should say LISTEN to the right news channels.

    March 17, 2010 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. File under "Sarcasm"

    Can we each write a letter to Obama and claim that we represent "tens of thousands" of similar citizens? How does that work?

    March 17, 2010 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  16. FLAGSHIP, NC

    I applaud the nuns:
    THEY are the face of the Church.
    THEY are the hands of the Church.
    THEY are the feet of the Church.
    THEY are the ones that have compassion and show the God's meaning with deeds.
    Bishops are administrators, watching out for each other. Doing what it takes to climb the ladder to the next position. I would be suprised if they had a clue about what it is all about.

    March 17, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  17. John

    it's funny how people like Amy here care so much about not funding abortion because "abortions are murder" but then don't have any problem with 40000 people dying every year because of lack of insurance, that on the other hand is capitalism? So if the babies you saved die because of lack of health insurance where does that fall into?

    I do want to say though that I disagree with the demonizing of health insurance companies. These companies are profit maximizing firms. So that is their bottom line. whatever they do to max their profit is what you'd expect from a private firm. They're not evil, just rational. The problem becomes when the product is your life. Because who cares about an unhappy customer if he's dead?
    So either you're ok with that (but at least have the guts to say so) or your not, in which case we can agree that a private market cannot handle on its own people's lives (i.e we need the government to step in to some extent).
    And for all of those screaming about how this is a government takeover and yadayada and to Amy saying that people w/ "socialized" medicine are asking what are we doing, it shows you haven't lived anywhere near those countries. Well I have.
    People there are very happy with paying 2 euros to see a Doc and 300 euros a year for insurance. Those who want more, buy more coverage from the private sector. (oops that doesn't really fit into a takeover idea since there shouldn't be a private sector) and are actually stunned every time they visit me here.
    Educate your opinions before ranting

    March 17, 2010 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  18. hockey mom from Minnesota

    God bless these nuns!!!!!

    March 17, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  19. Center left-out

    Health Care is not a privilege, it's a right as a American citizen. The Republican will pay a big price in November for denying the American people it's rights. This bill is about saving lives and the federal budget, to do nothing is admitting to failure.

    "The Republicans arms are too short to box with Health care"

    March 17, 2010 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  20. K in CA

    Anyone familiar with the operation of Catholic Hospitals and other Catholic Health Centers will realize that the nuns have far more first-hand knowledge authority than the bishops when it comes to the actual health care situation. If a person believes that "intellectual elitists" don't have a clue because they're too detached and theoretical, then that person's beliefs must lead him/her to siding with the nuns.

    In this situation, the bishops are the "intellectual elitists" who have primarily detached and theoretical knowledge about health care. It is the nuns who are in the "trenches" doing the actual work.

    As for the abortion issue, the article clearly states that the nuns do not believe the health care bill funds elective abortions with taxpayer money. A person can believe that the bill does, and is welcome to those beliefs. However the nuns cannot be accused of contradicting their faith. The nuns believe that the bill does not.

    The nuns' basic argument is they believe the bill will bring more to life than the current system which abandons the hard working individuals upon which America was and will be built.

    March 17, 2010 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  21. Rita Z

    No one gets pregnant with the intention of having an abortion. But 50 percent of the pregnancies in this country are unintended. Perhaps if all of these women had access to health care coverage and birth control, we could cut the number of abortions in half or more - which should be the real goal.

    March 17, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  22. Danny

    Sue:
    When you lost me when you said "Just like the Democrats want to cut the money/benefits for senior citizens, mentally/physically handicapped, very sick, etc.-as these groups will cost more money–and not pay into the system through their taxes". Senior citizens will continue to be cared for under Medicare, mentally/physically handicapped, very sick, etc... will probably, depending on their age and income, be covered by Medicaid. What page of the bill are you referring to there? Also the word is spelled "hypocrite".

    March 17, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  23. Marty, FL

    Michelle,
    I have my facts straight, thanks. You can remain in lying denial if you choose...or you can read the actual sections in the bill I mentioned for you.

    March 17, 2010 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  24. Jayme Silva

    Although I challenge CNN's profiling of these Sisters as "progressive Catholic advocates, I agree with the Sisters. Let's legislate universal health care now and work out the details later. It's a good thing.

    March 17, 2010 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  25. Ken

    After reading all of the comments from TCM, I now understand what the initials stand for – The Conservative Moron!!

    March 17, 2010 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
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