Friday, December 4, 2009

USCCB Action Alert: Tell Senate to Pass Hatch-Nelson Amendment

The USCCB sent out this action alert today asking Catholics to contact their Senators and urge them to support the Hatch-Nelson Amendment to the proposed health care bill. Without this amendment which would maintain current restrictions on federal funding of abortions, the bishops maintain “the current legislation should be opposed.”

I like how the bishops note here that the Senate Bill is actually a sneaky “gut and amend” of an already passed, unrelated House Bill. The actual name of the bill they’re working on is called “Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009”.

Please contact your senators and if you’re in Missouri, see State-specific information below this action item:

Support the Hatch-Nelson Amendment to Stop Abortion Funding in Health Care Reform!

The full Senate is considering their health care reform bill. The bishops are strongly urging the Senate to incorporate essential changes to the Senate’s health care reform bill to ensure that needed health care reform legislation truly protects the life, dignity, consciences and health of all. The amendment to maintain the prohibition on federal funding of abortion could be voted on as early as Monday, December 7. Please contact your Senators today!

Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) have submitted an amendment that like the Stupak amendment that was included in the final House bill, prevents this legislation from mandating abortion coverage or providing federal funds for coverage that includes elective abortions. Those wishing to purchase abortion coverage may continue to do so with their own private funds, but not in the government-run health care plan (“community health insurance option”) or with the help of federal subsidies.

Senate: On November 18, Senate leadership unveiled its health care reform bill, The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This bill has been brought to the floor by inserting its text into H.R. 3590, an unrelated House-passed tax measure. Debate and votes have begun and may continue until the Christmas recess.

In a November 20 letter to the U.S. Senate, the U.S. bishops urged essential changes in the Senate bill:
to retain federal policy on abortion funding and conscience protection; to protect access to health care for immigrants; and to provide for adequate affordability and coverage standards. The bishops said:
“Sadly, the legislative proposal recently unveiled in the Senate does not meet these moral criteria.” The bishops specifically said that if the bill’s serious defects on abortion are not corrected, “the current legislation should be opposed.”

ACTION: Contact Members now through e-mail, phone calls or FAX letters. 1) Send an e-mail at 2) Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’
local offices. Full contact info can be found on Members’ Web sites at and

MESSAGE—SENATE: “Please support the Hatch-Nelson Amendment to uphold longstanding policies against abortion funding, and please protect conscience rights in health care reform.

WHEN: Senate floor debate on the amendment may begin the week of December 7.

WATCH FOR ADDITIONAL ACTION ALERTS! As the Senate continues to consider amendments to the health care bill on abortion funding, conscience protections, improving affordability and coverage and protecting immigrants’ health care, the USCCB will send Action Alerts to update you on advocacy needed to support health care legislation that protects the life and dignity of all people from conception until natural death.

For more information, please visit Thank you for your advocacy!

For Missouri residents, this alert comes from the Missouri Catholic Conference:

Urge McCaskill to Support the Hatch - Nelson
Amendment to Health care reform

Senator Claire McCaskill will be a pivotal vote in keeping abortion out of health care reform. Even if you have already contacted her, please contact her again using the contact information below.

Claire McCaskill
United State Senate
Hart Senate Office Building SH-717
Washington D.C., 20510
(202) 224-6154
Contact Form

Here are some talking points you can use to convey your message to Senator McCaskill:

1. Support the Hatch - Nelson Amendment. Keep abortion out of health care reform.

2. Missourians overwhelmingly oppose using their tax dollars or insurance premiums to subsidize abortions or abortion insurance coverage.

3. The Hatch- Nelson Amendment allows people to pay for abortion insurance coverage only with their own money.

4. It is not good enough to depend upon adopting the Hyde Amendment every year through appropriation bills. Instead, the Hyde Amendment language should be made permanent law in health care reform (the Hyde language restricts abortion to rape, incest or threat to the life of the mother).

For more information contact the Missouri Catholic Conference,, 573.635.7239.

*The U.S House has already adopted a strong, pro-life amendment similar to the one being proposed by Senators Hatch and Nelson.

**If we can obtain passage of the Hatch - Nelson Amendment, then the pro-life provisions will likely be more secure when the House and Senate negotiate their differences in finalizing the health care reform legislation.