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Antiabortion religious leaders urge lawmakers to pass Senate health bill

With the House moving toward a final health-care vote, the White House circulated Friday night a letter from Catholic and evangelical leaders that refutes claims that the Senate health-care bill could lead to the federal funding of abortion coverage.

Certain antiabortion advocates are demanding that Congress enact tougher restrictions, contained within a health-care bill passed by the House. Their efforts have proven influential with Democrats, led by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich), who also oppose abortion; they have threatened to vote against the Senate bill when it reaches the House floor, likely late next week.

But Democratic leaders are constrained from changing the Senate language and are seeking to reassure Stupak and his allies that their concerns are unwarranted.

The National Catholic Reporter, which first reported on the letter, said it asks lawmakers "to make an informed decision about this legislation based on careful deliberation guided by facts."

The text of the letter, signed by 25 antiabortion religious leaders, follows:

Dear Member of Congress,

As Christians committed to a consistent ethic of life, and deeply concerned with the health and well-being of all people, we want to see health care reform enacted. Our nation has a rare and historic opportunity to expand coverage to tens of millions of people, make coverage more affordable for all families, and crack down on many of the most harmful practices of the health insurance industry.

We are writing because of our concern about the lack of clear and accurate information regarding abortion provisions in the health care reform bill passed by the Senate on December 24, 2009.

Reforming our health care system is necessarily complex, and the provisions related to abortion, or any other issue, require careful examination of the facts as they exist in the legislative language. We believe that the provisions below provide extensive evidence that longstanding restrictions on federal funding of abortion have been maintained. Furthermore, this bill provides new and important supports for vulnerable pregnant women.

Following is a comprehensive factual listing of all provisions related to abortion and positive supports for pregnant women in HR 3590, along with specific page references.

Abortion-Related Provisions Included in the Senate-Approved Health Care Reform Bill "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" (HR 3590 EAS/PP)

· Prohibits the Secretary of HHS from requiring the coverage of any abortion services as part of the essential health benefits for any qualified health plan offered in a state insurance Exchange (pg. 2070);

· Allows the insurance company to decide whether or not to include coverage of abortion services, including the Hyde abortion exceptions, in a qualified health insurance plan offered in a state insurance Exchange (pg. 2070);

· Prohibits insurance companies from using federal funds, including federal tax credits and cost-sharing assistance, to pay for abortion services except for those services allowable under the Hyde amendment (pg. 2071);

· Requires an insurance company that chooses to offer a plan in a State Exchange with abortion coverage, beyond the Hyde abortion exceptions, to collect a separate second premium payment from each enrollee for the cost of the abortion coverage (pgs. 2071-2072 & 2074-2075);

· Requires the insurance company to deposit all separate payments into a separate account that consists solely of abortion premium payments and that it is used exclusively to pay for such services (pgs. 2072-2074);

· Requires the state health insurance commissioners to ensure that insurance companies comply with these requirements in accordance with guidance and accounting standards set by the Office of Management and Budget and the Government Accountability Office (pg. 2075);

· Requires insurance companies that offer general abortion coverage as part of a qualified health plan to provide a notice of coverage in the summary of benefits and coverage explanation (pg. 2076);

· Allows states to pass a law prohibiting the inclusion of abortion coverage in plans offered in a state health insurance Exchange (pg. 2069);

· Requires the director of the Office of Public Management to ensure that there is at least one private, multi-state qualified health plan offered in each state insurance Exchange that does not provide coverage of abortion services beyond the Hyde exceptions (pgs. 2087-2088);

· Prohibits insurance companies offering qualified health plans from discriminating against any individual health care provider or health care facility because of its unwillingness to provide, pay for, provide coverage of, or refer for abortions (pg. 2076);

· Prohibits the preemption of state laws regarding abortion (pg. 2077);

· Maintains current Federal laws relative to conscience protection; willingness or refusal to provide abortion; and discrimination on the basis of the willingness or refusal to provide, pay for, cover, or refer for abortion or to provide or participate in training to provide abortion (pg. 2077);

· Establishes and provides $250 million for programs to support vulnerable pregnant women (pgs. 2170-2173); and

· Increases the adoption tax credit and makes it refundable so that lower income families can access the tax credit (pgs 2400-2407).

We are now at a critical moment in the history of our country. More than 30 million Americans may finally gain access to a health care system that is affordable -- providing families, children and seniors with fundamental care that is essential to human dignity. We respectfully ask that you make an informed decision about this legislation based on careful deliberation guided by facts.

Sincerely,

Morna Murray
President
Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good

Ron Sider
President
Evangelicals for Social Action

Rev. Jim Wallis
President and CEO
Sojourners

Stephen F. Schneck
Director, Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies
The Catholic University of America

Joel Hunter
Senior Pastor
Northland Church

Dr. David P. Gushee
Chair
New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good

David O'Brien
Professor of Faith and Culture
University of Dayton

Francis Xavier Doyle
Former Associate General Secretary
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

Jean Stokan
Director
Institute Justice Team
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas

Lisa Cahill
Professor of Theology
Boston College

Bryan N. Massingale, S.T.D.
President, Catholic Theological Society of America
Associate Professor of Theology
Marquette University

David DeCosse
Director of Campus Ethics Programs
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics
Santa Clara University

Nicholas P. Cafardi
Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law
Duquesne University School of Law

Dennis M. Doyle
Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Terrence W. Tilley
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. Professor of Catholic Theology
Chair, Theology Department
Fordham University

Richard Gaillardetz
Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies
University of Toledo

Vincent J. Miller
Professor
Department of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Alex Mikulich
Research Fellow
Jesuit Social Research Institute
Loyola University

Sandra A. Yocum, Ph.D.
Chair of Religious Studies
University of Dayton

Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Hale
Senior Pastor
Ray of Hope Christian Church, Decatur, GA

Dr. Barbara Williams Skinner
President
Skinner Leadership Institute

Cheryl Bridges Johns
Professor of Christian Formation & Discipleship
Pentecostal Theological Seminary

Brian McLaren
Author, Speaker and Founding Pastor
Cedar Ridge Community Church

Glen Stassen
Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics
Fuller Theological Seminary

Lisa Sharon Harper
Executive Director, NY Faith & Justice
Author, Evangelical Does Not Equal Republican...or Democrat

By Post Editor  |  March 12, 2010; 8:10 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency , Health Care  
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Comments

REASSURING TO SEE THIS GOOD SENSE LETTER FROM CATHOLIC AND EVANGELICAL LEADERS

Thanks to you, Washington Post, for publishing this. Though some of the responses have demeaned the positions held by the signers, those positions look important and credible to me.

One point the letter does not make is that there will likely be more abortions if the healthcare bill does not pass. As one recent article in the Post noted, a number of other industrialized countries have much lower abortion rates than the US does, and leaders in those countries, including a Catholic cardinal in England, attribute that in part to having good healthcare support that makes it possible for a poor mother to keep the child, probably also motivating more boyfriends to take a responsible role.

Therefore, it appears that opposing the healthcare bill is a de facto pro-abortion position, placing Republicans and some wavering Democrats in an ironic position.

Posted by: JimWaldenfels | March 14, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

More of the same kind of political crap. Those who signed the letter probably represent less than 1% of the religious population. They certainly can not be called the "religious right." They are those who go against the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Evangelicals who support same sex marriage and gay rights. This part of the distortion we have seen such as the men and women in the white coats standing behind Obama when he delivers the slippery message. They are people who were recruited for stand in jobs. As for Gibbs, if there was ever a person less truthful, I can't think of one. Just this week he has refused to answer questions as to weather the White House offered a job to the man opposing the Penn Democrat candidate for Senate. Gibbs would not know the truth if it hung from his nose. He is becoming the joke of the White House press corps. The reporters
riducle him outside of the press room.
It may surprise you as to how good you will feel if just one article from the Post had a ring of truth to it. No one from the Post has reported the CNN poll that shows 58% of the public does not want this bill passed. The Gallup poll shows a similar trend. Yet, the public be dammed, we know what is best for ruining the country.

Posted by: MALBENNET | March 14, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

More of the same kind of political crap. Those who signed the letter probably represent less than 1% of the religious population. They certainly can not be called the "religious right." They are those who go against the teachings of the Catholic Church and the Evangelicals who support same sex marriage and gay rights. This part of the distortion we have seen such as the men and women in the white coats standing behind Obama when he delivers the slippery message. They are people who were recruited for stand in jobs. As for Gibbs, if there was ever a person less truthful, I can't think of one. Just this week he has refused to answer questions as to weather the White House offered a job to the man opposing the Penn Democrat candidate for Senate. Gibbs would not know the truth if it hung from his nose. He is becoming the joke of the White House press corps. The reporters
riducle him outside of the press room.
It may surprise you as to how good you will feel if just one article from the Post had a ring of truth to it. No one from the Post has reported the CNN poll that shows 58% of the public does not want this bill passed. The Gallup poll shows a similar trend. Yet, the public be dammed, we know what is best for ruining the country.

Posted by: MALBENNET | March 14, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

This letter signed by "Anti-abortion religous leaders" is ludicrous!

To imply that most Pro-life Christians/Catholics agree with this heathcare bill is a outright lie.

Posted by: JBfromFL | March 14, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

REASSURING TO SEE THIS GOOD SENSE LETTER FROM CATHOLIC AND EVANGELICAL LEADERS

Thanks to you, Washington Post, for publishing this. Though some of the responses have demeaned the positions held by the signers, those positions look important and credible to me.

One point the letter does not make is that there will likely be more abortions if the healthcare bill does not pass. As one recent article in the Post noted, a number of other industrialized countries have much lower abortion rates than the US does, and leaders in those countries, including a Catholic cardinal in England, attribute that in part to having good healthcare support that makes it possible for a poor mother to keep the child, probably also motivating more boyfriends to take a responsible role.

Therefore, it appears that opposing the healthcare bill is a de facto pro-abortion position, placing Republicans and some wavering Democrats in an ironic position.

Posted by: JimWaldenfels | March 14, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Hi johnnyd123. Yesterday, on March 13, 2010 9:05 PM, you posted the following (excerpt). I'll insert some comments starting with "JIM HERE" in capitals.

"I pay almost $30.00 a week for Health Insurance through my Job, but I have not had any health coverage for about 9 months. I work about 25 hours a week average as I work in the retail.
My insurance just covers about the amount I pay in and I work for a multi billion dollar corporation."


JIM HERE: Thanks for providing your story from the real world.

"I was told I have Polycythemia about 6 months ago along with other issues.
You can live 7 to 13 years or so from the time this rare bone marrow disease starts."

JIM HERE: The trick is to figure out how to be on the long side of the range, in fact, how to be beyond the long side. That's the theme in a well-known great old article "The Median Is Not The Message" by long-term cancer survivor (but now deceased)Stephen Jay Gould, a prominent biologist. That's what I'm doing. My original prognosis from two leading centers for a challenging case of prostate cancer was five years, and the predictions were made at the turn of the year 1999/2000. Have you tried PubMed (www.pubmed.gov) to check on research on your disease? I just plugged "Polycythemia" into its search block and got 11,153 hits, many quite recent. It's obvious your disease is getting an abundance of research attention. It's possible your doctor, though he may be very good, may not be expert in your disease. That happens a lot among doctors treating prostate cancer.

There may be little symptoms or more over time so you don't know how long you may have had this rare blood disease....Anyway I think that any Health Care is better than what is available out here on the street for a lot of the working people who are the back bone of this country. Somehow we have moved away from our Values and Forgot where we came from. Today there are only a few Public Servants who do really serve the Public. So just wait until you or a loved one gets sick, until then you have no clue what it is really like to need good health care unless your sick....

JIM HERE: Get a copy of the President's "The Audacity of Hope" and take a look at what he says about caring for those with diseases. Also, take a look at what he says about his faith journey. I'm sure you will have some of your faith in our nation's political leadership restored.

Johnny D. Florida, Nation (One under God)

Posted by: JimWaldenfels | March 14, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I pay almost $30.00 a week for Health Insurance through my Job, but I have not had any health coverage for about 9 months. I work about 25 hours a week average as I work in the retail.
My insurance just covers about the amount I pay in and I work for a multi billion dollar corporation. I was told I have Polycythemia about 6 months ago along with other issues.
You can live 7 to 13 years or so from the time this rare bone marrow disease starts. There may be little symptoms or more over time so you don't know how long you may have had this rare blood disease.
My doctor told me I was ready have a stroke and may need to be put on a breathing machine etc.
I am 55 years old don't drink or drug and have been in good physical health. I see a Oncologist at a Cancer Center and I have had four phlebotomies in the last two months etc, the white blood count goes down each time I give the blood as I am producing to much red blood cells etc. (The white and red cells reminds me of the Democrats and Republicans as we need something in between or better).
Anyway I think that any Health Care is better than what is available out here on the street for a lot of the working people who are the back bone of this country. Somehow we have moved away from our Values and Forgot where we came from. Today there are only a few Public Servants who do really serve the Public. So just wait until you or a loved one gets sick, until then you have no clue what it is really like to need good health care unless your sick. I thought this country was built on a Christian Foundation.
Where is the Christian Attitude Now? Where are the Christians in the Senate and Government? Do Christians just walk by someone who needs help and not help them? It's about time to restore the Nation and be good Christians and this does not mean going to church once in awhile saying a few prayers. Being a Christian in a Christian Nation built by Christians means helping the ones that need help.
In Cuba the Health Care is better than here also in the Dominican Republic, Health Care is available to every one and Education is for every one and the work laws are better than here in the United States.
We complain about China Slavery and Cheap Products but we have lowered ourselves to do business with them and they laugh at us because we don't make anything here anymore and common sense tells you that if you don't make anything then that countries economy will not be successful.
Pride, Greed and other things have blinded us so what we need now is some light so we can see what a beautiful Nation that we can have and that's a Christian Nation.
Don't be the horse with blinders on going into a burning barn.
I know this is tough to digest but it is the truth and the truth will set us free.
Until then all of us will never be free but be slaves.
I don't have Health Insurance and pay for it but I do have a good fighting healthy spirit.
Johnny D. Florida, Nation (One under God)

Posted by: johnnyd123 | March 13, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

What a one-sided letter, signed by nobodies in the faith movement!
It mentions provisions that sound anti-abortion, and leaves out ones that sound pro-abortion (like the provision that requires at least one health plan in the exchange to cover abortions "beyond the Hyde amendment")..
Is that really a fair analysis of the legislation?
And for the Washington Post to make it seem as if some Bishops and Church leaders signed it, without commenting on the influence of those that did? Biased.
Professors of Ethics at Liberal Arts Colleges? Come on...
Even the provisions quoted do not stand up to a true moral judgement on Does it Use taxpayer Dollars for Abortion?
Moving money around into different accounts, and making it seem as if the individual is solely covering the procedure... Shameless.
Par for the course for this newspaper, which would print lies before allowing bad news for their man..

Posted by: johnL1 | March 13, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Here's an even better bill and it's simple enough that anyone can understand it without reading 3,000 pages of jargon: "Congress shall pass no law which does not apply to the members of Congress equally with all other Americans." These "elites" think this 3,000 page garbage sandwich is so good for Americans, they should be required to sign up for it. Americans are so sick of these unaccountable dopes messing with our lives while they get off scot free. President Suit, Savior of the World.
http://wp.me/pBZ7l-87

Posted by: PresidentSuit | March 13, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

"Requires an insurance company that chooses to offer a plan in a State Exchange with abortion coverage, beyond the Hyde abortion exceptions, to collect a separate second premium payment from each enrollee for the cost of the abortion coverage (pgs. 2071-2072 & 2074-2075"

SO, IF YOU ARE POOR AND NEED A GOVERNMENT PLAN..YOU WILL HAVE TO FUND ABORTION! Did I read this wrong?

Posted by: JBfromFL | March 13, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I looked at the list of "25 antiabortion religious leaders." It is an insult to characterize this list as "antiabortion" and in any way suggest that the authors and signers of this letter represent groups opposed to abortion. The signers of this letter are, at best, liberal evangelicals. They are absolutely not representative of the antiabortion community.

Posted by: TJW1 | March 13, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

awwww look at all the little whining Republicans, can't ever seem to get their way these days.. how soon they forget how Bush and the Republican run Senate and Congress ignored the Democrats on all the bills Bush forced on the USA to help his Republican master plan to impoverish America. Serves you right Republicans.

Posted by: Hillary08 | March 13, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

Find Instant Medical Insurance coverage for you at http://ow.ly/1ivST

Posted by: daceyliv | March 13, 2010 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Our churches and our representatives should be defending us from the WHOLE Obamacare scam and not only form the abortion part of the scam.

Those "representing" various religions and supporting the Obamacare scam are probably receiving funds from George Soros, who has invested billions to destroy the U.S.

Soros funds, for example, the Catholic Left, Catholics for Choice, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Catholics United and who knows how many other anti-Catholic, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish groups.

Lies do not change Obama's pro-abortion and pro-infanticide (late-term abortion) stand, nor the aberrant stands of Obama's Health Care Czar Ezekiel Emanuel and Science Czar John Holdren.

Lies do not change the FACT that we are broke and Obamacare will further destroy our economy, our future and the future of our children and grandchildren.

Lies do not change the FACT that Obamacare is another scam to enslave us.

We expect our churches and our representatives to defend us from the whole Obamacare scam, not just the abortion part of the scam.

Those "leaders" are betraying us and supporting dictator Obama while harming the people they say they represent. They don't represent us. They represent our enemies.

Posted by: AntonioSosa | March 12, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

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