The U.S. Catholic Church bishops and health care leaders agree with President Obama, that the nation is in dire need of healthcare reform. We also urge people to evaluate the present proposals being debated in Congress according to responsible moral criteria.
In light of this, New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes is asking local Catholics and people in the wider community to communicate with their congressional representatives and senators to insist that their efforts to accomplish healthcare reform include:
· truly universal coverage (from conception to natural death) 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
· restraining costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers.
At issue is the need to ensure that the first, truly universal coverage respect human life and dignity. According to reports, the health care reform package in its current form threatens the largest expansion of “abortion rights” since Roe vs. Wade by mandating coverage for abortions in health plans and allowing for federal subsidies of abortion. Additionally, the package would seemingly nullify many state regulations on abortion.
“The people of Louisiana and across the nation should not be forced to have their hard earned tax dollars pay for abortion on demand,” said Peg Kenny, Director of the Archdiocese of New Orleans Respect Life Office. “Abortion is not healthcare, and it should not be included in any healthcare measure.”
This week, Bishop William J. Murphy, Chair of the U.S. Bishops’ committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development wrote to Congress saying, “On respecting life and dignity, no health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion. Any such action would be morally wrong.”
For decades the US Bishops have advocated for comprehensive health care reform that would provide equitable access for all.
“All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and it should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, where they live, or where they were born,” wrote Bishop Murphy. “The Bishops’ Conference believes health care reform should be truly universal and it should be genuinely affordable.”
Locally, Archbishop Hughes and pro-life leaders are encouraging parishioners and constituents to write to Congressional leadership to pass comprehensive reform that explicitly excludes abortion, and to call on President Obama to maintain his promise of promoting “abortion neutral” policies that would not change the “status quo” in regards to abortion funding and regulations.
“It is critical that Congress hears the message to support a health care reform bill that respects life,” said Kenny. “Any bill must exclude mandated coverage for abortion and uphold longstanding laws that restrict abortion funding and protect conscience rights.”