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A Shepherd's Message: Health Care Reform

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo
Archbishop of Galveston - Houston, TX

November 06, 2009

Published on the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston website

"The policies adopted in health care reform will have a tremendous impact in the years to come, whether for good or for ill. This is the reason for the urgency of action…”.

This past week I, in a concerted effort with all the bishops of the United States, sent information to all the parishes in the Archdiocese about health care legislation now pending in Congress. Our concerns were focused on deficiencies in this legislation regarding the protection of human life for all from conception to natural death. The various bills pending in Congress do not yet rise to the level of guaranteeing this fundamental protection, and thus, the fundamental right to life.

A true health care reform must maintain longstanding federal policies that restrict funding for abortion and that respect the conscience of health care providers. Abortion is not health care. The current legislation needs to be amended to explicitly deal with these issues. Without such language, the legislation would have to be opposed.

The policies adopted in health care reform will have a tremendous impact in the years to come, whether for good or for ill. This is the reason for the urgency of action to assure the proper respect for human life at all stages and for clear conscience protection for medical providers in refusing to carry out what they consider to be immoral medical procedures. (It should be noted that an amendment of the legislation to this effect, the “Stupak Amendment,” has been proposed in the House of Representatives and does address pro-life concerns. No such amendments have been proposed in the Senate at this time).

I am writing to you and asking you to take the time to address these significant issues with your Representatives in Congress. Health care should be about saving and preserving life, not destroying it. You will need to act quickly since the legislation may soon come to a vote in Congress. I also ask you to speak in a clear but civil manner.

There is further information on our Archdiocesan Web site about health care reform legislation and the need for provisions or amendments to protect human life. The legislation is so complex and bewildering in its details that there is great possibility that abortion and pro-life concerns will be affirmed as being addressed when, in fact, they are not. Clear language on the use of funds by the government, or in direct contact with the government via private insurance carriers, is needed in the current legislation to keep the government, and thus, all citizens, from being directly involved in the taking away of innocent human life.

The nation is at an important crossroads on the issues surrounding health care reform. I cannot emphasize how serious a matter it is that any such legislation refrains from putting all of us in the untenable position of directly assisting in abortions and forcing medical providers to be involved in the direct assault upon human life. Our actions here are essential in making this moral judgment known to our legislators.

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