Healthcare Vote Looms -- Strategy to Divide Catholics Raising Concerns

Action Alert

Healthcare Reform Vote Expected Imminently
Bishops Outraged at Morally Flawed Statements by Catholic Organizations

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WASHINGTON, DC, March 18, 2010 -- Catholic Health Association President, Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, representing Catholic hospitals, has incited vocal opposition from bishops across the country in response to her letter to Congress requesting passage of the Senate-passed healthcare reform bill that includes taxpayer funding for abortion. The Catholic hospitals' outspoken support for this morally flawed bill is causing confusion among Catholics and may lead some to unwittingly ask their congressman to pass it when they would actually oppose it if they had the facts from the bishops and pro-life organizations. More importantly, the confusion is making it more difficult for pro-life Democrats to resist the pressure they are getting from the President and the Democratic leadership in the House.

Senate-passed bill
requires large scale
funding of abortions
at Community Health

It is more critical than ever to contact your member of Congress right away to let him or her know you oppose the Senate-passed healthcare bill with abortion funding. The bill is coming to a vote any day. See details below.

CHA has been joined in their support of the legislation by NETWORK (a Catholic social justice lobby) and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. The sister's letter is dishonest and contradicts the bishops. They say "despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions."

Catholics United, a progressive and partisan Catholic group, have created a TV ad in favor of the legislation saying it is "endorsed by pro-life advocates like the Catholic Health Association". They plan to run the ads in the districts of swing voters.

Vatican Weighs In

Support by progressive Catholic organizations' of this flawed healthcare reform bill is becoming so bizarre that the USCCB had to issue a correctional statement earlier today stating that NETWORK "grossly overstated whom they represent". The letter had 55 individual signatories with some representing communities as small as three to five people. While this was a minute number of the 793 religious communities, NETWORK claimed to be speaking for all 59,000 American women religious.

The Vatican has even stepped with an article in the official Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano strongly supporting the U.S. bishops. It quoted Denver Archbishop Chaput: ". . . [the] long, unpleasant and too often dishonest the national health-care debate is now in its last days. Its most painful feature has been those ‘Catholic’ groups that by their eagerness for some kind of deal undercut the witness of the Catholic community and help advance a bad bill into a bad law.”

On a positive side, Mother Mary Quentin Sheridan of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, representing over 103 communities of religious women in the US, issued a statement saying, "Protection of life and freedom of conscience are central to morally responsible judgment. We join the bishops in seeking ethically sound legislation."

The effort of some organization to undercut the position of the bishops is leading to confusion not only among Catholics, but among secular media and politicians who look to the Church's position on moral issues. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, KS, writes, "The Catholic Health Association's position, in effect, provides cover for any member of the House who chooses to buckle under the pressure of the president and the Democratic leadership to accept government funding of abortion. They can now defend themselves by pointing out that Catholic health care leaders recommended they vote for the bill."

US bishops have been more outspoken than ever, standing together to affirm life and asking all Catholics to do the same. (See Cardinal George's press release.)

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver writes, "The Senate version of health-care reform currently being forced ahead by congressional leaders and the White House is a bad bill that will result in bad law. It does not deserve, nor does it have, the support of the Catholic bishops of our country. Nor does the American public want it. It does not meet minimum moral standards in at least three important areas: the exclusion of abortion funding and services; adequate conscience protections for healthcare professionals and institutions; and the inclusion of immigrants."

We should be outraged that these groups are attempting to speak for Catholics across the country, misrepresenting the moral truth as expressed by the bishops, and affecting one of the most far-reaching pieces of social legislation in history.We must stand in solidarity with our bishops and in no uncertain terms state that Catholics oppose healthcare reform that permits federal funding of abortion.

Action: Call your congressman right away.

Ask him or her to vote "NO" on the Senate-passed healthcare bill that permits abortion funding.

Find your member of congress and his or her phone number. You will be surprised by how easy it is to call and express your opinion.

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See list of friendly congressman who particularly need reinforcement and people who have voted for the healthcare bill before who may be persuadable. Please forward this page to like-minded friends and family members who live in areas represented by the listed members. Ask them to join you in contacting their congressmen as well. Ask them to sign up for CCG emails so they can get the latest developments on this issue directly. Time is urgent.

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