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

Nuns break with bishops over health care bill

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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."

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

    Sigh. Abortions have not been covered with tax dollars, and will not BE covered with tax dollars if the health bill passes, and there is already plenty of wording in the current laws to this fact and those lwas won't change with the passage of this bill. What congressional opponents want to do is add additional wording so that people who buy into PRIVATE insurance also won't be able to have their abortions covered. If it is private insurance, it is NONE of your BUSINESS, anti-abortionists!

    March 17, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  2. Zoeysmom92081

    Who's the nitwit who thinks nuns don't pay taxes so they shouldn't have any say. What a moronic, uninformed thing to say. They do pay taxes and as citizens they have just as much right as you to voice their opinions.

    March 17, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  3. Stacey

    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!!

    March 17, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  4. Michelle

    It is so sad that all of you can't open your eyes and see what is really in this bill. It will cover abortion, Christ has nothing to do with this bill. I thank the Republicans that are standing up and saying "no" to this bill. Yes, the Republicans have a bill that would cost far less than this monster that the House has to force through but Speaker Pelosi is the one that won't let it be heard on the floor. For all of you that don't know she decides what bill comes to the floor or not. Why don't you all really read the bill. This bill is going to cost me, my children and grandchildren so much and will eventually restrict our healthcare. Let's fix the things that need to be fix and leave the rest alone. Why aren't we going after malpratice suits? This country was not founded on what it can do for its people (even though this President thinks he needs to fix everything). We as a nation are much better off when the government stays out of our lives and doesn't try to force us to have healthcare, it is not in the Constituation that we must have healthcare so leave it alone. As far as these "55" nuns, they don't speak for thousands of nuns. Just as Rep. Baron Hill doesn't speak for me because he doesn't listen to anyone but Obama and Pelosi!!!

    March 17, 2010 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  5. Mary Beesley

    These sisters have great courage!! They are to be commended for their stance!

    March 17, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  6. Tim

    Pass the bill already, we need it now!

    March 17, 2010 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  7. Dano

    Hey Sue:
    1) Learn how to spell
    2) This article has nothing to do with President Obama – if you must spew hate at least do it on an appropriate article
    3) Stop just reciting GOP propaganda about health care reform and actually get the facts

    March 17, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. Edwin


    The cursing is usually at people often called CINO's (Christians in name only). They call themselves conservative christians, but they do not use christian morals when acting or legislating.

    'Real' christians, who try to help those in need and offer comfort rather than judgement, are worthy of praise by almost everybody.

    If you can't tell the difference between the two groups, you are either blinded by politics or very jaded. Or both.

    March 17, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. GoneRogueInTX

    @david always makes me laugh when i hear self – righteous catholics talk about who is going to hell and who isn't.Do you keep all of God's commandments???If you are guilty of transgressing one law the bible says you are guilty of all. God's word calls for us to be holy not a "good catholic". A good catholic is something a bunch of men made up. Holiness is the standard God set and it is a lifestyle that can be chosen by all men not a certain few. Also we have no heaven or hell to put anybody in. Judge not lest ye be judged. This is not Rome. This is not a catholic theocrasy. There is only one Holy father and he is in heaven. Besides the catholic church needs to focus on their corrupt and systematic abuse of children that they often have tried to hide. Also, as for your socialist, communist names that you like to throw around...its well documented that your pope was part of hitlers youth and that the church systematically harbored nazis in the late 40s(look it up) until you get the same passion and hatred that you have for people that diagree with you politically for people that sexually abuse children and decietfully try to cover up that and their history up....NO ONE IS LISTENING OK!!!! OH...and By the way...the health bill will pass!!!good day

    March 17, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  10. TCM

    abortion aside, this bill is the worst thing that can happen to this country right pass it does nothing but tax ALL of us...reduce the quality of medical care, and availability. NOTHING the government's run as been advantageous to the masses....this is strictly for low income minority include funding illegals. When will you liberals be satisfied? When we're a nation of mediocrity, and you're paying >50% of your salary (those few of you that actually work) in taxes? What a bunch of reform needs to take place, but not with this bunch of incompetent loons....wait and see; you're end up with FAR less than anything you have now, and you'll be paying far longer for it......

    March 17, 2010 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  11. DS

    As a Roman Catholic who went to Catholic schools, I can tell you that nuns are at the forefront when it comes to helping the poor and disadvantaged. Bishops, on the other hand, are like politicians who love making rules just so they can control the masses.

    So, yes...I'm with the nuns on this one. They're the ones who see the suffering of those in dire need of medical care but can't afford them. And the Bishops...well, let's just say that they'll just repeat whatever the Vatican tells them to say.

    March 17, 2010 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  12. MR

    So the nuns think the chance that the healtcare bill will not change government funding for abortions is worth a deal to get healthcare! WOW! They are not the nuns who taught me in school. I guess the next time they ask for donations for retired nuns, I will decline as should everyone else and let them get their needed treatment at the community health centers and Catholic Hosptials who will be getting cents on the dollar from the government for reimbursement.

    March 17, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. TCM

    hey DANO – just what facts are you talking about? Obama saying it'll save you $3k a year? Or Pelosi saying we'll all have more affordable healthcare...and more plentiful? What are you smoking in that bong?

    March 17, 2010 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Gary

    Keep shouting it Sue, maybe someone will believe your nonsence.
    Seems to be a stratagey of the right, keep telling lies, someone is bound to believe you.

    March 17, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  15. Felly

    Good job! Nuns. The GOP lacks morality. How can they claim to be a Pro-life Party, and when it's time to save millions of lives they become hypocritical? Now here is why we need Healthcare/Insurance reform:

    Doctors support health reform because it:

    Makes coverage more affordable: We see patients every day who have a job but lack insurance coverage because their employer cannot afford to provide it and their wages are insufficient to pay for it. Hardworking Americans should not have to choose between basic health care and feeding, clothing and housing their family.

    Expands access to care: We support subsidies for small businesses and individuals, and investments in training doctors so all Americans can access health care. You should be able to see a physician when you are sick without fear of bankrupting your family, or being denied the insurance you paid for based on pre-existing conditions or gender.

    Increases quality of care: You should always be able to get quality care and prevention to live a healthy life. As physicians, we see patients every day who have insurance that does not cover the treatments they need. It should not matter what zip code you live in, how much money you make per year, whether you are old or young, or a man or a woman.

    Builds a healthy health care system: Every hospital and physician’s office in America should focus on patients, not paperwork. True coordination of care means patients can focus on getting well. A large investment in prevention allows doctors and patients to focus on staying healthy. These reforms coupled with trial pilot programs to improve the broken health care system offer hope for doctors and patients.

    March 17, 2010 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  16. Sue

    jm for sc:

    Sorry, you are WRONG!!!!

    Stupak-–a Democrat---has been coming out publicly saying that it will cover abortion. This is why Stupak-–and 11 other Democrats will not vote on the Bill.

    I "believe" that Stupak said that the abortion coverage is listed on Page 270 of the Bill.

    Stupak also said that the Democrats even want to INCREASE they do not want to have to pay for any more babies.

    So, Obama, Pelosi, Reid and the liberal Democrats have now targeted babies and senior citizens. After all, they cannot work and pay taxes for "dear leader".

    March 17, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. Dano

    Hey Michelle:
    How is this bill is going to cost you, your children and grandchildren so much and will eventually restrict our healthcare? Maybe it will help you and/or your family someday when you/they have a pre-existing condition and would not be able to get affordable coverage in the current system. If that happens you'll be thanking God that health care reform was enacted in 2010!

    March 17, 2010 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  18. Jim

    I'm a lifelong Catholic who once studied in the seminary to become a priest. I'm a lector in my parish church and an executive in the insurance industry. I've raised two adult daughters, one of whom recently lost her employer-provided health insurance. I admire these Catholic sisters (but not our bishops) for speaking the truth and supporting our President’s plan!

    Not only will his plan extend coverage to 30 million citizens (such as my daughter); the Congressional Budget Office and Medicare actuaries agree his plan would reduce the growth in healthcare spending and the federal deficit! We Catholics and all Americans will have much to be thankful for this Easter when the healthcare reform is passed!.

    March 17, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  19. Bill of Florida

    I'm with the nuns in this case. Pass the bill.

    March 17, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  20. Christina

    31 million Americans who currently do not have health insurance will be covered by this bill. I am not sure how people cannot understand that as a GOOD thing! And for all those people that say government should stay out of your lives, I have this to say to you.... Don't EVER collect social security, and don't ever go on Medicare because you'd be a hypocrate just like the rest of the Republicans. I know so many people that collect social security and are on medicare, but call THIS healthcare reform "socialism".... wow, such hypocrates!!!

    March 17, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  21. johnrj08

    I applaud the nuns for breaking ranks with that bunch of gray-haired old pedophiles who hate women and think they shouldn't have the right to choose.

    March 17, 2010 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  22. Russ

    For all you goodie two shoes that want to stop funding for abortions with your tax dollars, there are just as many of us that want our tax dollars used for it. We are all paying the price for welfare childrenand unwanted childern. So, whenever you bible thumping, advocates of pro life step up and adopt and or pay the price to raise these kids with your own money, then and only then can you ask that government funds or insurance premiums stop paying for abortion. Get it? You thick skulled morons.

    March 17, 2010 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  23. Dano

    Hey TCM:
    Just what facts are you talking about??? You just bashed President Obama and Speaker Pelosi (and me I think!) but you said nothing of substance. Like I told Sue don't just spout GOP propaganda but say how health care reform will be bad for us.

    March 17, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  24. Jesus(the Zombie version)

    Please don't vote for HCR.

    If you do then over 18,000 won't die every year anymore.

    Is that what you want? You want to save the lives of double the amount of people that died on 9/11?

    that's not what REAL America is about.

    It's all about being born into a white family with money.

    Shame on you people trying to save lives.


    March 17, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  25. PALINs PALM PILOT...have all the Retarded asnwers to her Stupidity

    President Barack Obama called for COURAGE for all Americans to stand up to GOP opposition and pass Healthcare Reform...and the nuns have answered in the affirmative "YES" WE CAN and rightfully so!

    Please stand up with COURAGE and call your congressman and senators and let your voice be heard....WE WANT HEALTHCARE REFORM NOW!!!!!

    Say NO to the G"NO"P and the status Quo!

    Enough Is Enough....It's time for Americans to start taking care of Americans!!!!!

    March 17, 2010 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
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