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Catholic Bishops Continue To Oppose Health Care Bill

It’s clear that House Democrats plan to pass the health care bill without changing the abortion language, despite the demands of Rep. Bart Stupak and his cohorts. Earlier the Catholic hospitals decided to back the bill, deeming the Senate language sufficient on the question of public funding of abortion. But the US Conference of Catholic Bishops will not join them.

Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the USCCB is sounding the alarm to vote against the health care bill. “It looks like the House leadership’s just going to try to jam this bill through the House without fixing any of the problems on abortion, so we’ll have to oppose it,” says Doerflinger. “We’re getting out our alerts by fax and email.”

The message? “It’s basically: Vote ‘no,'” says Doerflinger, “if they bring forward the legislation without fixing the problems on life and conscience.”

This is despite the fact that the Senate language would be similarly restrictive on public funding of abortion, to the extent that it would allow states to ban abortion coverage completely on state exchanges, and could chill insurers to provide abortion coverage at all. In addition, just the expansion of health care coverage should reduce abortions, according to figures compiled by the United Nations.

To understand why, look no further than the explanation provided to Reid by the late Cardinal Basil Hume, a senior official of England’s Catholic Church during Reid’s tenure in London some time back.

“If that frightened, unemployed 19-year-old knows that she and her child will have access to medical care whenever it’s needed,” Hume explained, “she’s more likely to carry the baby to term. Isn’t it obvious?”

Anti-choice Democrats have cover from both sides of the argument to justify their vote.

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David Dayen

David Dayen