When history looks back on the momentous passage of the health care reform bill, the Catholic debate over the bill’s abortion provisions and the church’s long-term conviction that health care rises to the stature of a universal right will certainly play large in any analysis.
"We are neither red states nor blue states, but the United States"
It is natural for those giving advice to the president to enjoy the hard-won victory represented by the passage of the health care reform. The president's tenacity in the pursuit of this measure is to be commended heartily.
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.
WASHINGTON -- The House of Representatives passed historic health reform legislation late March 21 but 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.
[Editor's Note: This story will be updated throughout the day with more reactions.]
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.
WASHINGTON -- A coalition of U.S. women religious representing more than 100 communities said March 17 that the position on health care reform and abortion articulated by the U.S. bishops is "the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church" and should be followed.
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.
Congress, and its Catholics, should say yes to health care reform.
We do not reach this conclusion as easily as one might think, given the fact that we have supported universal health care for decades, as have the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic Health Association and other official and non-official organs of the Catholic church. There are, to be sure, grave problems with the bill the House will consider in the next few days. It maintains the squirrelly system of employer-based health care coverage that impedes cost reduction. Its treatment of undocumented workers is shameful. It is unnecessarily complicated, even Byzantine, in some of its provisions. It falls short of providing true universal coverage.
WASHINGTON -- The leaders of more than four dozen U.S. congregations of women religious are urging members of Congress to "cast a life-affirming 'yes' vote" on the Senate's version of health reform legislation.
"Despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions," they said in a letter delivered to all members of Congress March 17. "It will uphold long-standing conscience protections and it will make historic new investments -- $250 million -- in support of pregnant women."
Their letter came two days after the U.S. bishops restated their objections to provisions in the measure they said would expand federal funding of abortions.
Cardinal Francis E. George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said March 15 that the bishops were "not quibbling over technicalities" and that the bill deliberately omitted "the necessary language that could have taken this moral question off the table."
In their letter the nuns said theirs "is the real pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for" the health bill.
WASHINGTON -- In a break with Catholic hospital administrators, the nation's top Catholic bishop says the health care reform bill "must be opposed" because it does not adequately ban federal funding of abortion.
"The American people and the Catholic bishops have been promised that, in any final bill, no federal funds would be used for abortion and that the legal status quo would be respected," Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Monday (March 15).
President Obama, who is pressing Congress to pass a health care bill this week, has pledged to exclude federal funding of abortion from the legislation except in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's health is in jeopardy, as has been federal law since the 1970s.
Obama and others say the health care bill passed by the Senate in December fulfills that promise. The Catholic bishops argue that it does not, and that only the version passed by the House in December contains the necessary ban.