The Obama administration last week week attempted to argue that Catholic bishops didn’t oppose the Senate version of the ObamaCare bill as a way of “proving” that the bill won’t fund abortions.  The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has responded by asking parishes to post and/or read aloud a statement that clarifies their position on the bill, which is adamant opposition.  In the statement that many Catholic parishioners will find greeting them as they attend Mass, the USCCB not only declares its opposition but also urges Catholics to contact their elected representatives in Washington to stop it:

As long-time advocates of health care reform, the U.S. Catholic bishops continue to make the moral case that genuine health care reform must protect the life, dignity, consciences and health of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. Health care reform should provide access to affordable and quality health care for all, and not advance a pro-abortion agenda in our country. Genuine health care reform is being blocked by those who insist on reversing widely supported policies against federal funding of abortion and plans which include abortion, not by those working simply to preserve these longstanding protections.

  • On November 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed major health care reform that reaffirms the essential, longstanding and widely supported policy against using federal funds for elective abortions and includes positive measures on affordability and immigrants.
  • On December 24, the U.S. Senate rejected this policy and passed health care reform that requires federal funds to help subsidize and promote health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions through a separate payment solely to pay for abortion. And the affordability credits for very low income families purchasing private plans in a Health Insurance Exchange are inadequate and would leave families financially vulnerable.
  • Outside the abortion context, neither bill has adequate conscience protection for health care providers, plans or employers.
  • Congressional leaders are now trying to figure out how the rules of the House and Senate could allow the final passage of a modified bill that would satisfy disagreements between House and Senate versions.

ACTION: Contact your Representative and Senators today by e-mail, phone or FAX.

  • To send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress go to www.usccb.org/action.
  • Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices.  Contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at www.house.gov & www.senate.gov.

MESSAGE – HOUSE:

“I am pleased that the House health care bill maintains the longstanding policy against federal funding of abortion. On the other hand, the provisions on abortion funding in the current un-amended Senate health care bill are seriously deficient and unacceptable. I urge you to work to uphold essential provisions against abortion funding, to include full conscience protection and to ensure that health care is accessible and affordable for all. I urge you to oppose any bill unless and until these criteria are met.”

MESSAGE – SENATE:

“I am deeply disappointed that the current un-amended Senate health care bill fails to maintain the longstanding policy against federal funding of abortion and does not include adequate protection for conscience. I urge you to support essential provisions against abortion funding, similar to those in the House bill. Include full conscience protection and ensure that health care is accessible and affordable for all. I urge you to oppose any bill unless and until these criteria are met.”

WHEN: Votes in the House and Senate are expected at any time. Act today!

The USCCB is not known for its adherence to conservative political principles.  Had the House version passed in the Senate, the bishops would have likely been cheering as Barack Obama signed it into law.  Their opposition to the Senate version and their call to activism against it shows just how radically the Senate changed the abortion provisions.  This is not status quo ante on federal funding for abortion, and even the normal supporters of government intervention in health care know that.

I’ll update you after attending Mass tonight on whether that message gets read at my rather liberal parish.

Update: Steven Ertelt at Life News has the report about the endorsement from the Catholic Health Association:

The Catholic Health Association is coming under fire today for releasing a statement not only endorsing the pro-abortion Senate health care bill but issuing a misleading statement making it appear the bill does not fund abortions. The head of a national pro-life organization disabused the CHA in response. …

Despite the endorsement of the pro-abortion bill, Keehan claimed CHA hasn’t diluted its pro-life stance.

“On the moral issue of abortion, there is no disagreement,” Keehan contends. “On the technical issue of whether this bill prevents federal funding of abortions, we differ with Right to Life.”

Douglas Johnson, legislative director for National Right to Life, spoke with LifeNews.com about Keehan’s statement and dismissed the so-called segregation of funds as an accounting gimmick.

“The House and Senate bills do not merely differ on a ‘technical issue,’as Carol Keehan would have people believe,” he said. “This is another regrettably attempt to minimize the substantive issues involved in order to smooth the way for the Obama legislation.”

“In reality, the Senate bill contains multiple pro-abortion provisions, which in total constitute the most pro-abortion single piece of legislation to reach the House floor since Roe v. Wade,” Johnson added.

The CHA didn’t convince the USCCB, either, a group that would have been predispositioned to buy Keehan’s spin.