BY NANCY FRAZIER OʼBRIEN A BIPARTISAN BILL before the House of Representatives would bring the health reform law “into line with policies on abortion and conscience rights that have long prevailed in other federal health programmes”, the head of the US bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities has said.
In a May 20 letter to House members Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston urged passage of HR 5111, legislation proposed by Joseph Pitts, Republican representative for Pennsylvania, and Dan Lipinski, Democrat representative for Illinois, and co-sponsored by 91 other House members.
“Efforts to ensure that our healthcare system serves the life, health and conscience of all will be a legislative goal of the Catholic bishops in the months to come,” Cardinal DiNardo said, adding that the Pitts-Lipinski proposal makes “a significant contribution to this important task”. The cardi nal said, however, that if “these genuine problems are not addressed in their own right, they will be taken up and used as ammunition by those who favour repealing [the health reform law] outright, which would eliminate the positive as well as negative aspects of the new law”.
Cardinal DiNardo said the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, was “an important step toward ensuring access to health coverage for all Americans” but was “profoundly flawed in its treatment of abortion, conscience rights and fairness to immigrants”. He also said Mr Obama’s executive order signed on March 24 “does not address, or claim to address, several of the problems”.
He said passage of the health reform law now allows for “the task of keeping the federal government out of the abortion business” to be “pursued with less distraction from other issues and agendas”.