Bishops urge strong language on abortion

Oct. 9, 2009 at 7:54 AM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Senior U.S. Catholic bishops say they will oppose healthcare reform legislation unless Congress changes provisions on abortions, among other things.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to Congress saying, "No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion," CNN reported Friday.

"We sincerely hope that the legislation will not fall short of our criteria," the letter read. "However, we remain apprehensive when amendments protecting freedom of conscience and ensuring no taxpayer money for abortion are defeated in committee votes."

The Senate Finance Committee defeated Republican amendments that would have spelled out that the existing ban on federally funded abortions would apply to all facets of health insurance in the bill and would have barred government from forcing hospitals, doctors and other healthcare providers to perform abortions. Current federal law allows government funding for abortions in the cases of rape, incest or danger to a mother's health.

The letter is signed by Bishop William F. Murphy, diocese of Rockville Centre, New York; Cardinal Justin Rigali, archdiocese of Philadelphia; and Bishop John Wester, diocese of Salt Lake City.

The letter also urges that reforms "make quality health care affordable and accessible to everyone," especially people near the poverty level, and protect the health of legal immigrants and their families.

"If acceptable language in these (three) areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously," the letter says.

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