Friday, January 8, 2010

USCCB Issues Urgent Call for Parish Action on Health Care

As certain select Representatives and Senators are holding secret meetings to determine the final shape of health care reform, the U.S. Bishops are urging a renewed and urgent effort by every parish in the country to contact Congress with essential concerns. The bishops' bottom line remains the same:

Provisions against abortion funding and in favor of conscience protection, affordability, and immigrants’ access to health care must be part of a fair and just health care reform bill, or the final bill must be opposed.

The following is an urgent memorandum sent last night from the USCCB followed by the requested bulletin insert for every parish in the country:

Urgent Memorandum

Date: January 7, 2010

From: Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, Secretariat of Pro-Life

Activities, Office of Migration and Refugee Policy, Office of the Secretary of Communications

To: Pastors, Diocesan Pro-Life Directors, Diocesan Social Development Directors, Diocesan Communications Directors, State Catholic Conference Directors

Re: Nationwide USCCB Bulletin Insert on Health Care

During October and November, diocesan and parish leaders were asked by the U.S. Bishops’ Conference to distribute two consecutive Nationwide Bulletin Inserts on health care reform. Thank you for your great cooperation in that effort. Since that time the following has occurred:

· The U.S. House passed health care reform that reaffirms the essential, longstanding and widely supported policy against using federal funds for elective abortion coverage.

· The U.S. Senate has rejected this policy and passed health care reform that requires federal funds to help subsidize and promote health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions through a separate payment solely to pay for abortion.

· These two bills are being combined into one bill that both the House and Senate will vote on in final form.

Catholics need to make their voices heard insisting that health care reform protect the lives, dignity, consciences and health of all. Provisions against abortion funding and in favor of conscience protection, affordability, and immigrants’ access to health care must be part of a fair and just health care reform bill. Unless and until these criteria are met, the final bill must be opposed.

The U.S. bishops have asked that the attached USCCB Nationwide Bulletin Insert (Spanish Insert) on health care reform be printed or hand-stuffed in every parish bulletin and/or distributed in pews or at church entrances as soon as possible. Final House and Senate votes may take place soon. If your Arch/bishop approved disseminating the earlier bulletin inserts, consider this an update.

Also included are suggested Pulpit Announcements and a Prayer Petition (Spanish Announcements and Prayer). Please encourage parishioners to pray for this effort as well. More information can be found at www.usccb.org/healthcare.

Thank you for your urgent actions and prayers on behalf of this nationwide effort!

And here’s the bulletin insert:

URGENT: USCCB NATIONWIDE BULLETIN INSERT

Stop Abortion Funding in Health Care Reform!
Protect Conscience
Ensure Affordable Health Coverage
Allow Immigrants to Purchase Private Health Insurance

As long-time advocates of health care reform, the U.S. Catholic bishops continue to make the moral case that genuine health care reform must protect the life, dignity, consciences and health of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. Health care reform should not advance a pro-abortion agenda in our country.

- On November 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed major health care reform that reaffirms the essential, longstanding and widely supported policy against using federal funds for elective abortions and includes positive measures on affordability and immigrants.
- On December 24, the U.S. Senate rejected this policy and passed health care reform that requires federal funds to help subsidize and promote health plans that cover elective abortions. All purchasers of such plans will be required to pay for other people’s abortions through a separate payment solely to pay for abortion.
- Outside the abortion context, neither bill has adequate conscience protection for health care
providers, plans or employers.
- These two bills must now be combined into one bill that both the House and Senate will vote on in final form. Provisions against abortion funding and in favor of conscience protection, affordability, and immigrants’ access to health care must be part of a fair and just health care reform bill, or the final bill must be opposed.

ACTION: Contact your Representative and Senators today by e-mail, phone or FAX.

- To send a pre-written, instant e-mail to Congress go to www.usccb.org/action.
- Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices. Contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at www.house.gov & www.senate.gov.

MESSAGE—HOUSE:

“I am pleased that the House health care bill maintains the longstanding policy against federal funding of abortion. I urge you to work to uphold essential provisions against abortion funding, to include full conscience protection and to assure that health care is accessible and affordable for all. Until and unless these criteria are met, I urge you to oppose the final bill.”

MESSAGE—SENATE:

“I am deeply disappointed that the Senate health care bill fails to maintain the longstanding policy against federal funding of abortion and does not include adequate protection for conscience. I urge you to support essential provisions against abortion funding, similar to those in the House bill. Include full conscience protection and assure that health care is accessible and affordable for all. Until and unless these criteria are met, I urge you to oppose the final bill.”

WHEN: Votes in the House and Senate on the final bill are expected in January.

Act today! Thank You!

Later today, The Catholic Key Blog will have commentary later today on the extraordinary “reconciliation” process currently taking place behind closed doors. So check back. We’re back in business after an extended Christmas quiet.