Action Items for your consideration
Please use the resources mentioned on this blog to
-- educate yourself,
-- inform your legislators of how to act upon the proposed health care legislation, and
-- motivate others (especially those in states with legislators who might be able to be persuaded to vote appropriately).
and be sure to PRAY - first, last, and throughout the process! Especially now as the various health care bills make their way to the floor of the Senate and the floor of the House.
Prayer Chain. Sunday, October 4 is Respect Life Sunday. Check the area where you live for details about participating in the annual Silent Prayer Chain for Life.
Ongoing through November 1
40 Days for Life. You can follow (at http://40daysforlife.com) the amazing stories of babies saved, and of mothers and employees converted (and maybe you’ll want to sign up to receive the daily updates in your email). Also, consider participating in a vigil near you (see http://40daysforlife.com/location.cfm). Even if you aren’t near a specific vigil location, consider praying and fasting in union with all the participants across the country.
Worldwide Rosary for the Unborn. This has become an annual event that has related events in January and May. This “event” is something you can do wherever you are, i.e., without having to be in a certain place at a specific time. Participation is simply to pray the rosary (at any time during those three days, and as many times as you like) for the following intention: “For an end to the surgical and non-surgical killing of unborn human persons“.
This event and the others similar to it were started by the same person who provides the beautiful bumper stickers saying “Pray the Rosary for the Protection of Unborn Human Persons” and showing the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Learn more at www.saintmichaelthearchangelorganization.org.
I don’t think it is merely a coincidence that October is both “Respect Life Month” and the “Month of the Holy Rosary” (with Oct 7 being the specific feast day for Our Lady of the Rosary). We know that Our Lady certainly cares about the unborn children, the disabled, the elderly, and those who suffer with terminal illnesses. All human life is sacred and she is ready, willing, and able to help us defend it.
Eucharistic Adoration. While I’m at it, may I also encourage you to consider signing up for an hour of Eucharistic adoration? Making visits (brief ones at random, or a full holy hour on a weekly basis) is one of the most powerful ways to pray for pro-life, pro-marriage, and pro-family concerns. Check with your own parish or others nearby to learn the days and times that the church or chapel provides access for prayer in front of Jesus visibly in the monstrance or hidden in the tabernacle.
Health Care Legislation. Please continue praying about the outcome of the legislative process of health care reform. I won’t use this message to discuss the legislation in full detail, and I can’t keep you updated frequently because the news changes quickly and my time is limited, but it does seem that this month is likely to be critical in determining what will happen in Congress, especially with a significant step that can happen on or near Oct 15 regarding something called “reconciliation” which can affect the number of votes needed to pass or stop legislation. (AUL Action has a description at http://blog.aul.org/2009/09/08/back-to-the-hill-guide-what-to-expect-next/# that may be helpful to you even though parts of that page are outdated now.)
Here’s a quick description of the Church’s stance as I understand it (please send corrections/clarifications if you have better information):
The Church does advocate for “universal” coverage of all people, based upon the dignity inherent in every human being since we are all created in the image and likeness of God. But that coverage does not mean that all possible treatments/procedures/etc must be covered, nor does it mean that the government must be the provider.
Thus, there is a great need for the legislation to have an explicit exclusion for abortion (i.e., stating that abortion will not be provided nor funded by any new legislation).
The legislation also needs clear and firm protection for the conscience rights of health care workers and institutions.
And it needs protection for the elderly and others who could be subjected to “counseling” that might sway them into choosing death not life-giving options when they are in difficult decisions about end-of-life care.
In addition to prayer, please consider signing up for any of the various information sources that I’ve mentioned in the past, and to try motivating people in other states to contact their legislators, especially if those legislators are ones who might be sitting somewhere in the middle regarding the important points. Also, keep alert to times when contacting your own legislators will be helpful. I have found AUL (Americans United for Life) to be pretty reliable at keeping subscribers informed (via free email updates). At the end of this message, I’ll give you the update they sent tonight (regarding some of the amendments discussed this week). See also http://blog.aul.org/2009/09/30/leading-pro-life-group-outraged-by-the-defeat-of-key-pro-life-amendments-in-senate-finance-committee/# .
- October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Perhaps you are not aware that one of the most well-known organizations does provide some funding to Planned Parenthood. Please do research before you make contributions (including purchases of “pink ribbon” merchandise), especially if you are considering donating to or helping to raise funds for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. (It has changed names over the years, so I generally refer to it as simply the Komen foundation.) Let me know if you want more information about the Komen connection to PP. Here is a link to some organizations that you might prefer to support: www.bdfund.org/breastcancerorgs.asp. (And notice the link at the bottom of that page to take you to www.bdfund.org/breastcancer.
asp with an explanation about the K-PP connection.) Many organization use the pink ribbon symbol as an incentive; the labeling details vary and can make it difficult to identify whom is actually being supported by the purchase.
- There is SO MUCH happening in the news (i.e., much of it you may not hear/read if you only use the mainstream media) that needs prayer and action. Threats to the sanctity of life and marriage seem to be growing at an increasing rate, including threats affecting children in schools and even affecting homeschooling families. So if anyone wants to help me keep track for the purpose of deciding what to share with others, please feel free to offer your assistance.
- Prayer from www.priestsforlife.org/prayercampaign/
Prayer for our Nation’s Health Care Reform
Lord Jesus, you are the Divine Physician,
And the source of all life and health.
Guide our nation at this critical moment,
As our government seeks health care reforms.
Give our elected officials the humility to know
That they are servants, not masters.
Give them the wisdom to realize
That every life has equal value.
Give them the strength to resist the idea
That some lives can be sacrificed to save others
Or that killing the unborn is a part of health care.
Give your people the courage to speak up
And to hold public officials accountable for their actions.
Save us, Lord Jesus, from a culture of death,
And let every reform in our public policy
Be based on the reform of our hearts and minds
In the light of your Gospel,
For you are Lord forever and ever. Amen.
The remainder of this message is from an email sent by AUL Action.
You can sign up (at http://action.aul.org/site/PageNavigator/Index ) to receive similar messages directly from them.
—– Original Message —–
Sent: 10/2/2009 6:58:48 PM
Subject: Pro-Life Amendments Defeated. Help Us Fight.
On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee’s vote of 10-13 to defeat the Hatch Amendment ( http://blog.aul.org/2009/09/30/update-amendments-in-senate-finance-committee-mark-up/# ) proved the pro-life community correct: The talk from the White House and the Congressional leadership of avoiding funding of abortions in health care is just that — talk.
The amendment sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) would have explicitly prohibited federal funding and coverage of abortions. Also defeated by the committee was another amendment by Sen. Hatch that would have prevented discrimination against any individual or organization who refused to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions.
So what does this mean? Since the start of the health care debate, including at our White House meeting last month ( http://blog.aul.org/
2009/09/19/leading-pro-life-group-concerned-by-white-house-meeting-on-abortion/# ), Americans United for Life Action has argued consistently that rhetorical assurances that abortion funding will not be included in health care reform are not enough. Rhetoric must be matched with action, with the addition in the bills of specific language prohibiting abortion. Since all five committees have rejected pro-life amendments which would ban abortion funding and coverage in health care, it is clear that we MUST keep questioning the gap between reality and the rhetorical assurances we are hearing from President Obama, Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi.
The AUL legal team has documented for you the facts behind their myth that the Hyde Amendment ( http://www.realhealthcare
respectslife.com/?page_id=388# ) would adequately prevent federal funding and coverage of abortion in health care reform. We want you to have the facts to make it easy to speak up.
Now that committee consideration of health care reform is over, the “behind the scenes” negotiations begin. At this crucial stage, the Congressional leadership is going to be negotiating backroom deals with your legislators. Be aware that the next page in the pro-abortion playbook will be that Pelosi and Reid are going to try to make a deal like the anti-life Capps Amendment ( http://blog.aul.org/2009/09/22/
the-capps-amendment-a-pro-life-analysis/# ) approach, which we oppose. The anti-life Capps Amendment approach is not acceptable because for the first time in history, the federal government will require that there be a health insurance plan that covers abortion in every area. Furthermore, the anti-life Capps Amendment permits federal money to go to insurance plans that cover abortion.
I assure you, we are hearing that the “deals” being discussed by Congressional Leadership on Capitol Hill are merely anti-life initiatives in the guise of ‘compromise,’ such as the Capps Amendment approach, and this will NOT protect pro-lifers from subsidizing abortion in health care reform.
This is where you come in.
YOU need to tell your congressman and senator ( http://action.
aul.org/site/PageNavigator/Index ) that you will ONLY accept health care reform that includes an explicit prohibition on federal funding and coverage of abortion, much like the pro-life Stupak-Pitts and Hatch amendments that were defeated in Committees.
Thank you for all your support during this extremely busy time as we work to show Congress and all Americans that “Real Health Care Respects Life”!
Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D.
President & CEO
Please help us continue fighting through supporting our efforts to protect and defend life by following this link to a secure donation page (http://action.aul.org/site/PageNavigator/Index ).
Let me know what you think! You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and follow AUL on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. We’re also reachable by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Respect Life Sunday
The first Sunday in October is Respect Life Sunday. On this special day, please reflect with gratitude on God’s priceless gift of human life. While you are at church, you can help make a difference by printing and handing out several copies of our flyer (http://www.real
pdf ) to help educate your friends and family that Real Health Care Respects Life!
Understand the Abortion Mandate
Please print and send your friends this flowchart
which demonstrates how the abortion mandate will work without an explicit, proactive exclusion of abortion from health care reform. Please let your friends know about these efforts to mandate taxpayer-funded abortions as a part of the current health care proposals.
The Legislative Arm of Americans United for Life
Chicago: 310 S Peoria Street | Ste 500 | Chicago, IL 60607
Washington, DC: 655 15th St NW | Ste 410 | Washington, DC 20005
This feast day, the twelfth anniversary of her death, is a fitting day to take a look at (or listen to) Mother Teresa’s words at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994.
Here are links to other items I found while trying to verify that this date is her feast day. (Not all blesseds and saints have their feast days on the anniversary of their deaths, i.e., the anniversary of their entrance into Heaven), but in this case the two dates are the same.)
The feast day of a saint or a blessed is a day set apart by the Church at the time of Beatification for giving special honor to the particular saint or blessed. On this day, we celebrate the memory of the Blessed or Saint, honouring his or her life, work and virtue and offer thanks to God for the wonders He has accomplished in history through this particular saint. In commemorating the feast of a Blessed or a Saint, we rejoice in the gift of his/her life lived for God in the service of His people and his/ her birth into heaven. We also draw inspiration and strength from the example of their virtues and unique gifts. The main celebration of a feast day lies in the Mass and other prayers where the Blessed or the Saint is mentioned by name or honoured; since they are closely united to God in heaven, we ask them to intercede for our needs before the throne of God and to help us on our path to union with Him. The joy of the celebration of a feast is also expressed in other festive ways (including religious and cultural events and offering something special to the poor ).
The feast of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta is on September 5th. Our preparation for her feast includes nine days of prayer at her tomb. We look to her as a model of love for God and neighbor, a beacon of light and hope, a friend and intercessor and most of all, as our Mother whose, help and guidance we can still count on.
All of the above portions of this post were prepared more than a week ago, and scheduled for publication on MT’s feast day. Here is a link to something that I found more recently http://www.lifenews.com/int1312.html
In case anybody you talk with tries to dispute that abortion will be covered in the currently proposed health care legislation, here are some links that can help you discuss that. Sorry, I don’t have time to provide excerpts.
(has good balance of brevity and detail, as well as the image used in this post)
Time Magazine Confirms Health Care Bills Include Taxpayer-Funded Abortions
Nonpartisan FactCheck Web Site: Obama Wrong, Abortion Funding in Health Care
This novena, apparently initiated by Priests for Life, starts tomorrow.
Mother Teresa truly is a renown pro-life hero unafraid of speaking the truth. ( See example at http://www.priestsforlife.org/mother-teresa/breakfast-letter.htm. ) We can ask her intercession for our country at this challenging time.
Mother Teresa was called from this world on September 5, 1997. As we approach the anniversary of her death, we invite you to say this special prayer each day.
We would also like to hear from you about how Mother Teresa impacted your life with her example and teaching. Please share with us why you are grateful to God for Mother Teresa, and what you learned from her. If you had an opportunity to meet her or be in her presence, we also invite you to share what that was like.
Father of Life,
You always defend the poor and oppressed.
In Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, You raised up a voice for the voiceless
And a friend to the poorest of the poor, the unborn child.
She brought women away from the despair of abortion clinics
To the hope of a loving community
That cared for her and her child.
She spoke the truth to men and women of power,
Asking them how we could tell people not to kill one another
While allowing a mother to kill her own child.
Father, as we honor this humble and faithful woman,
We ask you to give us the grace To follow her example.
May we be bold in word and generous in action
To love and serve the unborn
And to awaken our world to know, as Mother Teresa said,
That the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.
Fill us with love, bring us peace, and let us share your life forever.
We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
You can find a Spanish translation for the above text, along with other links about Mother Teresa, and the opportunity to submit your description of “how Mother Teresa has impacted your life” by going to http://www.priestsforlife.org/novenas/mother-teresa-novena.aspx. The novena begins Friday, August 28th.
This letter was mentioned on the EWTN program “The World Over” by host Raymond Arroyo.
Voice Your Concern Over Healthcare Reform
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City [Iowa]
The current national debate about health care reform should concern all of us. There is much at stake in this political struggle, and also much confusion and inaccurate information being thrown around. My brother bishops have described some clear “goal-posts” to mark out what is acceptable reform, and what must be rejected. First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research. We refuse to be made complicit in these evils, which frankly contradict what “health care” should mean.
[That part is at the home page of http://www.scdiocese.org/.
The remainder is at http://www.scdiocese.org/Stewardship/
We refuse to allow our own parish, school, and diocesan health insurance plans to be forced to include these evils. As a corollary of this, we insist equally on adequate protection of individual rights of conscience for patients and health care providers not to be made complicit in these evils. A so-called reform that imposes these evils on us would be far worse than keeping the health care system we now have.
Second, the Catholic Church does not teach that “health care” as such, without distinction, is a natural right. The “natural right” of health care is the divine bounty of food, water, and air without which all of us quickly die. This bounty comes from God directly. None of us own it, and none of us can morally withhold it from others. The remainder of health care is a political, not a natural, right, because it comes from our human efforts, creativity, and compassion. As a political right, health care should be apportioned according to need, not ability to pay or to benefit from the care. We reject the rationing of care. Those who are sickest should get the most care, regardless of age, status, or wealth. But how to do this is not self-evident. The decisions that we must collectively make about how to administer health care therefore fall under “prudential judgment.”
Third, in that category of prudential judgment, the Catholic Church does not teach that government should directly provide health care. Unlike a prudential concern like national defense, for which government monopolization is objectively good – it both limits violence overall and prevents the obvious abuses to which private armies are susceptible – health care should not be subject to federal monopolization. Preserving patient choice (through a flourishing private sector) is the only way to prevent a health care monopoly from denying care arbitrarily, as we learned from HMOs in the recent past. While a government monopoly would not be motivated by profit, it would be motivated by such bureaucratic standards as quotas and defined “best procedures,” which are equally beyond the influence of most citizens. The proper role of the government is to regulate the private sector, in order to foster healthy competition and to curtail abuses. Therefore any legislation that undermines the viability of the private sector is suspect. Private, religious hospitals and nursing homes, in particular, should be protected, because these are the ones most vigorously offering actual health care to the poorest of the poor.
The best way in practice to approach this balance of public and private roles is to spread the risks and costs of health care over the largest number of people. This is the principle underlying Medicaid and Medicare taxes, for example. But this principle assumes that the pool of taxable workers is sufficiently large, compared to those who draw the benefits, to be reasonably inexpensive and just. This assumption is at root a pro-life assumption! Indeed, we were a culture of life when such programs began. Only if we again foster a culture of life can we perpetuate the economic justice of taxing workers to pay health care for the poor. Without a growing population of youth, our growing population of retirees is outstripping our distribution systems. In a culture of death such as we have now, taxation to redistribute costs of medical care becomes both unjust and unsustainable.
Fourth, preventative care is a moral obligation of the individual to God and to his or her family and loved ones, not a right to be demanded from society. The gift of life comes only from God; to spurn that gift by seriously mistreating our own health is morally wrong. The most effective preventative care for most people is essentially free – good diet, moderate exercise, and sufficient sleep. But pre-natal and neo-natal care are examples of preventative care requiring medical expertise, and therefore cost; and this sort of care should be made available to all as far as possible.
Within these limits, the Church has been advocating for decades that health care be made more accessible to all, especially to the poor. Will the current health care reform proposals achieve these goals?
The current House reform bill, HR 3200, does not meet the first or the fourth standard. As Cardinal Justin Rigali has written for the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-life Activities, this bill circumvents the Hyde amendment (which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortions) by drawing funding from new sources not covered by the Hyde amendment, and by creatively manipulating how federal funds covered by the Hyde amendment are accounted. It also provides a “public insurance option” without adequate limits, so that smaller employers especially will have a financial incentive to push all their employees into this public insurance. This will effectively prevent those employees from choosing any private insurance plans. This will saddle the working classes with additional taxes for inefficient and immoral entitlements. The Senate bill, HELP, is better than the House bill, as I understand it. It subsidizes care for the poor, rather than tending to monopolize care. But, it designates the limit of four times federal poverty level for the public insurance option, which still includes more than half of all workers. This would impinge on the vitality of the private sector. It also does not meet the first standard of explicitly excluding mandatory abortion coverage.
I encourage all of you to make you voice heard to our representatives in Congress. Tell them what they need to hear from us: no health care reform is better than the wrong sort of health care reform. Insist that they not permit themselves to be railroaded into the current too-costly and pro-abortion health care proposals. Insist on their support for proposals that respect the life and dignity of every human person, especially the unborn. And above all, pray for them, and for our country. (Please see the website for the Iowa Catholic Conference at www.iowacatholicconference.org and www.usccb.org/healthcare for more information)
Your brother in Christ,
Most Reverend R. Walker Nickless
Bishop of Sioux City
You can contact your legislators via the following Web sites
and/or the U.S. Capitol Switchboard
Recently have done housekeeping to clear out the pages that aren’t very busy. Have also updated many of the pages. Didn’t make a list of them, so please just click on the titles that interest you to see what may have changed since the last time you checked.
Today, instead of making a “quick list” the way I have been doing on other days when in a hurry, I’m trying to put the links on pages that seem most applicable, so that the information is more useful. Along with that, am providing a list of pages where I’ve added material (i.e., just today’s additions, not the ones made during the housekeeping on other days this month). Maybe I’ll be able to use this method more often. I think it will be more helpful than a bunch of posts with miscellaneous links and more helpful than a series of posts each with one item. Not sure, though, because pages might get too long. But for now, will try it.
Here’s the list of pages that were updated today. You can find their links in Sidebar 1.
Articles and Examples (under Conscience Rights)
End of Life: Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide, Death Penalty
Johnsen – there’s still time to oppose her nomination
Sometimes the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)’s Web site seems www.usccb.org difficult to navigate. But that shouldn’t keep us from using the resources there. Here is a link http://www.usccb.org/healthcare/ to their Health Care Reform page.
A series of emails that I received today, seems to be an attempt to summarize and unify the voice of the bishops. I’ll include the text of those emails here, even though I haven’t traced all of it to exact places on the Web site. Please let me know if you find inconsistencies.
USCCB’s Health Care Position
Dear —- —-,
We write this special request and appeal because the debate has reached a critical point and the united voice of the Catholic community needs to be heard clearly and strongly as Congress makes important decisions about the principles and specific policies that will be included in legislation. Please pass this information along to others and share with them where we stand on this important issue.
The Catholic community has unique credibility in this debate, because we provide health care [ see statistics at http://www.usccb.org/healthcare/facts.shtml ], we have a long and consistent tradition of teaching on the ethics of health care, we purchase health care and we pick up the pieces of a broken health care system. Much is complicated about the health care debate. There are multiple committees involved, several bills in process, much information and misinformation being communicated.
USCCB Priorities and Message
Our message is clear and principled.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
1. Supports universal health coverage which protects the life and dignity of all, especially those who are poor and vulnerable. Because Catholic teaching insists that basic health care is a right and is essential to protect human life and dignity, genuine health care reform which protects human life and advances universal coverage is a moral imperative and urgent national priority. For us, universal coverage should be truly universal, assuring decent health care for all from conception to natural death.
2. Opposes any efforts to expand abortion funding, mandate abortion coverage, or endanger the conscience rights of health care providers and religious institutions. Longstanding and widely supported current policies on these issues must be preserved. We urge members of the House and Senate to take all steps necessary to oppose abortion funding, mandated abortion coverage or weakening of conscience rights.
3. Supports effective measures to safeguard the health of immigrants, their children and all of society by expanding eligibility for public programs, such as Medicaid, to all low-income families and vulnerable people and by offering adequate subsidies for cost-sharing of insurance premiums and out of pocket expenses. For decades, the Catholic Church has supported and continue to support genuine national health care reform that meets the following criteria:
- a truly universal health policy with respect for human life and dignity;
- access for all with a special concern for the poor and inclusion of legal immigrants;
- pursuing the common good and preserving pluralism, including freedom of conscience and variety of options; and
- controlling costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers.
In this challenging environment we insist that any health care reform must keep in place the existing federal protections against abortion funding and mandates and for conscience protection and respect for existing laws which restrict abortion. For us, these longstanding and widely supported protections are essential parts of the “abortion status quo.” On Capitol Hill, this is sometimes expressed as keeping health care reform “abortion neutral.” Clearly we are not neutral on abortion. But in this case, keeping health care reform “neutral” on abortion means
applying the Hyde amendment on abortion funding to new federal programs and
keeping in place existing laws restricting abortion as well as [keeping] conscience protections regarding abortion and other morally objectionable procedures.
Please share this information with others and please write your elected officials and let them know what we believe.
Catholic Public Policy Commission
Action Alert: Health Care
Call your members of Congress and tell them health care reform should:
(use the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 to contact your Representative or Senators)
1. Include health care coverage for all people from conception until natural death,
and continue the federal ban on funding for abortions;
2. Include access for all with a special concern for the poor;
3. Pursue the common good and preserve pluralism, including freedom of conscience;
[4.]Restrain costs and apply costs equitably among payers.
USCCB Position on Health Care Reform
- a truly universal health policy with respect for human life and dignity
- access for all with a special concern for the poor and inclusion of legal immigrants
- pursuing the common good and preserving pluralism including freedom of conscience and variety of options
- restraining costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers
Find out what the bishops are saying about health care reform at www.usccb.org/healthcare, the new, comprehensive resource for information on the Church’s position on this important issue
USCCB on Health Care
“Genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all is a moral imperative and a vital national obligation”
– Bishop William F. Murphy
Questions and Answers on Health Care
HEALTH CARE REFORM
USCCB on Health Care: Questions and Answers
Question: The Catholic bishops support health care reform. What are the bishops’ key criteria for health care reform?
Answer: The bishops have been consistent advocates for comprehensive, life-affirming reform to the nation’s health care system. Health care reform needs to reflect basic moral principles. The bishops believe access to basic, quality health care is a universal human right not a privilege.
In this light they offer four criteria to guide the process:
- a truly universal health policy that respects all human life and dignity, from conception to natural death;
- access for all with a special concern for the poor and inclusion of legal immigrants;
- pursuing the common good and preserving pluralism including freedom of conscience and variety of options;
- and restraining costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers.
Question: Why are the bishops so vocal about health care reform?
Answer: One out of three Americans under the age of 65 went without health insurance for some period of time during 2007 and 2008. Of these, four out of five were from working families. Sixty four percent of the uninsured are employed full time, year round. This state of affairs is unacceptable. In the Catholic tradition, health care is a basic human right not a privilege. It is a fundamental issue of human life and dignity.
Question: Are the bishops trying to promote an anti-abortion agenda through health care reform?
Answer: No. The bishops will continue to fight against the evil of abortion by all means available. But they have not demanded that urgently needed health care reform become a vehicle for advancing the pro-life cause, and they likewise believe it should not be used to advance the cause of abortion. In this sense, the bishops have asked that health care reform be “abortion neutral,” this is, that existing laws and policies with regard to abortion and abortion funding be preserved, allowing health care reform to move forward and serve its legitimate goals.
Question: Why are the bishops insistent that healthcare reform be “abortion neutral”?
Answer: Abortion advocacy groups are trying to use health care reform to advance their agenda, by having Congress or a federal official establish abortion as a “basic” or “essential” health benefit, guaranteeing “access” nationwide and requiring Americans to subsidize abortion with their tax dollars or insurance premiums. This would reverse a tradition of federal laws and policies that have barred federal funding and promotion of abortion in all major health programs for over three decades (e.g., the Hyde amendment, 1976), and have respected the right of health care providers to decline involvement in abortion or abortion referrals. This agenda would also endanger or render irrelevant numerous local and state laws regulating abortion. The bishops cannot, in good conscience, let such an important and pressing issue as health care reform be hijacked by the abortion agenda. No health care reform plan should compel anyone to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion. Any such action would be morally wrong and politically unwise.
Question: Are the bishops promoting socialized medicine by advocating for universal access?
Answer: All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage in life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born. There may be different ways to accomplish this, but the Bishops’ Conference believes health care reform should be truly universal and genuinely affordable.
Question: Health care is already expensive. Why advocate for legal immigrants to be covered too?
Answer: Legal immigrants pay taxes and contribute to the U.S. economy and social life in the same manner as U.S. citizens do. Therefore, there should be equity for legal immigrants in access to health care. In the Catholic tradition, health care is a basic human right, like education, and having access to it should not depend on where you were born. Achieving equality in this case, for instance, means repealing the five year ban currently in effect for legal immigrants to access Medicaid, and ensuring that all pregnant women in the United States, who will be giving birth to U.S. citizens, are eligible along with their unborn children for health care.
Question: What kind of actions do the bishops recommend to make quality healthcare accessible for all and genuinely affordable?
Answer: Many lower income families simply lack the resources to meet their health care expenses. For these families, significant premiums and cost sharing charges can serve as barriers to obtaining coverage or seeing a doctor. Medicaid cost-sharing protections should be maintained and new coverage options should protect the lowest income enrollees from burdensome cost sharing. The bishops have urged Congress to limit premiums or exempt families earning less then 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level from monthly premiums; they also recommend limiting co-payments and other costs which could discourage needed care, and increasing eligibility levels for Medicaid and CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program). They have urged Congress to provide states with resources to expand coverage and ensure sufficient funding for safety net clinics, hospitals and other providers serving those who will continue to fall through the cracks even after the system is reformed.