By Tom Grenchik
On Oct. 8, the U.S. Bishops’ Conference wrote to Congress about health care reform stating: “No one should be required to pay for or participate in abortion. It is essential that the legislation clearly apply to this new program longstanding and widely supported federal restrictions on abortion funding and mandates, and protections for rights of conscience. No current bill meets this test…. If acceptable language in these areas cannot be found, we will have to oppose the health care bill vigorously.”
The bishops have made it very clear that they strongly support genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all, from the moment of conception until natural death — including unborn children, immigrants and the poor. And they keep reminding Congress that health care reform should be about saving lives, not destroying them. But is Congress listening?
Congressional leaders are attempting to put together final bills for floor consideration, and votes could come as soon as early November. The bishops have asked each of us to contact our representative and senators immediately, urging them to fix these bills with pro-life amendments. Parishes across the country will be invited to make use of educational materials, including a Web address that allows parishioners to send an e-mail message to Congress with a click of a button. The bishops have asked for our swift action in contacting our congressional members through e-mail, phone calls or faxed letters. We can:
• Send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress at www.usccb.org/action.
• Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or call our members’ local offices.
• When contacting senators, tell them: “During floor debate on the health care reform bill, please support an amendment to incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights. If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”
• When contacting congressional representatives, tell them: “Please support the Stupak Amendment that addresses essential pro-life concerns on abortion funding and conscience rights in the health care reform bill. Help ensure that the rule for the bill allows a vote on this amendment. If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”
Our nation is at a crossroads. Policies adopted in health care reform will have an impact for good or ill for years to come. And so our bishops have one more very important request of each of us. They want us to pray. Pray that Congress will take action and ensure that needed health care reform truly protects the life, dignity and health of all. Pray that each of us will raise our voices to preserve our freedom of conscience and protect the most vulnerable, especially unborn children.
Through our prayers and actions, we can help make sure that health care reform will be about saving lives, not destroying them.
To learn more about the bishops’ advocacy for authentic health care reform, visit www.usccb.org/healthcare.