By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
The U.S. Roman Catholic bishops raised their voices in the healthcare reform debate last week—both for universal coverage and against the inclusion of abortion in government-run health insurance. A couple of days after firing off a letter to the House of Representatives branding the House healthcare bill's ban on federal funds for abortion a "legal fiction" and therefore unacceptable, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a full-blown Web site explaining where it stands in the healthcare debate.
The site is striking both for its firm support for universal healthcare and its insistence that the healthcare plan include a tougher ban on federal dollars for abortion than the House bill's. Can you name another group is so evenly split between traditionally Democratic and Republican goals? Check out these two passages from the site.
In our Catholic tradition, health care is a basic human right. Access to health care should not depend on where a person works, how much a family earns, or where a person lives. Instead, every person, created in the image and likeness of God, has a right to life and to those things necessary to sustain life, including affordable, quality health care. This teaching is rooted in the biblical call to heal the sick and to serve "the least of these," our concern for human life and dignity, and the principle of the common good. Unfortunately, tens of millions of Americans do not have health insurance. According to the Catholic bishops of the United States, the current health care system is in need of fundamental reform.
[N]umerous amendments to keep abortion out of health care reform have been defeated in committee, and it is now apparent that some leaders have every intention of threatening the health care reform process by forcing Americans to accept abortion mandates and/or fund unlimited abortion in their health coverage.
Surprisingly, the one voice missing in the debate over whether the Democratic healthcare plans fund abortion is the White House's. The Obama administration's near silence on the matter has strengthened the hands of those alleging that Democratic bills do indeed finance abortion with government money.