Bishops Push Plan Against Abortion Under Healthcare

Monday, 24 May 2010 05:39 PM

By John Rossomando

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The nation’s Catholic bishops endorse a new bipartisan measure aimed at blocking any possibility of federal abortion funding under President Obama’s healthcare reform law.

The bill would apply the language of the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal abortion funding, to the healthcare law, says its chief sponsor, Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa.

The bishops’ attempt to keep the healthcare reform effort from becoming law without specifically banning abortion after Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., caved amid a White House promise that the president would sign an executive order barring abortion funding.

The bishops spurned the executive order because they say it fails to address issues such as conscience for health providers or its “subsidizing” of health plans whose coverage extends beyond the limits imposed by the Hyde Amendment.

The “act’s policy of merely ‘segregating funds’ within such plans violates the federal abortion policy governing every other federal program, and still forces every American who purchases such plans to pay for other people’s abortions.” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of the bishops’ pro-life committee, wrote in a May 20 letter to Congress.

Federal court precedent suggests that Obama may lack legal authority to use an executive order to block federal funds from paying for abortions, DiNardo writes. Legal precedent, he writes, requires abortion funding unless Congress explicitly states otherwise.

“Given this history, we should not gamble with these lives on a guess as to how a federal judge will respond to the first lawsuit seeking a federally funded abortion at a Community Health Center,” the cardinal writes. “This problem requires a statutory solution.”

Pitts welcomes the bishops’ support, saying their backing is essential for his legislation to set the stage for the next Congress.

“A lot of people are looking to us for leadership on this issue,” Pitts tells Newsmax. “It’s pretty much a marker of what we will get put into law if we get back into control. This would be the language we would offer.”

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