National Catholic Reporter

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Politics

Pro-life, social-justice Catholics gain traction on Hill

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Analysis

WASHINGTON -- Along with Congress’s narrow passage of national health reform in late March came a new level of political influence on Capitol Hill for at least two groups: pro-life Democratic members of Congress, and national Catholic organizations that are both pro-life and active on social justice issues.

“Pro-life Democrats can expect to be taken more seriously in the Democratic Party,” said Jesuit Fr. John Langan, a Christian ethics professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

R.I. hospital latest victim in health care flap

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A Rhode Island health care system has become the latest casuality following a bitter split between U.S. Catholic bishops and Catholic organizations over abortion clauses in health care legislation last month.

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., has demanded that the Catholic Health Association remove St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island from its membership rolls, calling its affiliation with the association “embarrassing” according to Religion News Service, which first reported the story.

In a March 29 letter to CHA President and Chief Executive Officer Sister Carol Keehan, Tobin said the association had "misled the public and caused serious scandal for many members of the church."

St. Joseph Health Services is sponsored by the diocese and is its only Catholic hospital, said a diocesan spokesman.

Catholic Hospital Association spokesman Fred Caesar told Religion News Service Tobin's request was granted and that one other hospital said it may not renew its membership in the association, but no others have left. Caesar declined to name the hospital, or where it is located.

Fact checked: US bishops on health care reform

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Analysis

The fallout in the Catholic community from the recent debate over health care reform is sure to reverberate for years to come. Here, NCR Washington correspondent Jerry Filteau looks back at one of the more contentious issues of the debate -- abortion -- and analyzes the position of the U.S. bishops, longtime supporters of universal health care coverage who nonetheless ended up opposing the legislation.

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Washington -- "In the Senate bill, there is the provision that only one of the proposed multi-state plans will not cover elective abortions -- all other plans (including other multi-state plans) can do so, and receive federal tax credits. This means that individuals or families in complex medical circumstances will likely be forced to choose and contribute to an insurance plan that funds abortions in order to meet their particular health needs."

Health care vote reaction round-up

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In a close 219-212 vote, the U.S. House of Representatives voted last night to pass the Senate's version of health care reform. After more than a year of debate the final version of the bill now awaits President Obama's signature.

The House rejected a last-ditch effort to send a package of legislative fixes back to committee in order to insert language on abortion supported by the U.S. bishops. The vote on the reconciliation package, which concluded shortly before midnight, was 220-211. Twenty-three Democrats joined all 178 House Republicans in opposing the measure.

The House votes came only after Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., obtained a promise from the White House that President Barack Obama would sign an executive order stipulating that the Hyde amendment would apply to the health reform legislation.

The White House has not indicated when Obama will sign the health reform bill or issue the executive order. Unconfirmed news reports said Obama would sign the bill March 23.

Passage of the reform package has spurred reactions from every side in the Catholic world. Here's a few of the most prominent, with excerpts and links to full statements when possible.

Two Catholic, pro-life supporters back Senate bill

WASHINGTON -- Two Catholic House members who describe themselves as lifelong supporters of pro-life causes said they are convinced that the Senate-approved health reform legislation headed for a House vote does not expand federal funding of abortion.

Reps. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., and Charlie Wilson, D-Ohio, said at a teleconference sponsored by Faith in Public Life that they would vote for the Senate bill. The House vote was expected to take place March 21.

Lawmakers struggle with moral choice on health care

WASHINGTON -- As President Obama mounts a full-court press to push his health care bill through Congress, his latest target is a Louisiana Republican whose Catholic faith finds him torn between restricting abortion and expanding access to health care.

Obama asked Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao -- the only Republican to vote for the health care bill in either the House or Senate -- to take a fresh look at the bill March 17.

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April 11-24, 2014

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