Health Care

Everybody's Health Care Threatened if Catholic Bishops Win

| by Jon OBrien

WASHINGTON – If the Catholic bishops have their way, many
medical treatments and preventative measures we take for granted may be under
threat. The pressure that the US bishops have brought to bear on the debate
over healthcare reform has been widely reported. An ad in this morning’s
Washington Post warns of the likely impact if that pressure to
influence healthcare policy is not curtailed.

Jon O’Brien, president of
Catholics for Choice, said, “The Catholic bishops used their political clout to
influence politicians to vote for the Stupak-Pitts amendment, which would
further restrict access to abortion for millions of women in the healthcare
reform bill that passed the House. As Senators debate their version of the bill,
they should remember that the 200 US bishops who oversee dioceses do not
represent the views of all Catholics, nor even a majority. In fact, the majority
of Catholics do not want their bishops to be involved in this political process
at all.”

A recent poll by Catholics for
Choice found that 68 percent of Catholic voters in the US disapprove of US
bishops saying that all Catholics should oppose the entire healthcare reform
plan if it includes coverage for abortion and 56 percent think the bishops
should not take a position on healthcare reform legislation in Congress. In
fact, only a small minority of Catholics, fewer than 15 percent, are in line
with the bishops in believing that all abortion should be banned. The rest can
see circumstances in which legal abortion is an acceptable, even essential,
aspect of health care. (The full results of the poll are available on our Web

O’Brien continued, “The bishops
claim to speak on behalf on Catholics nationwide, but we know that the majority
of American Catholics do not agree with the bishops rigid stance on reproductive
health issues. Poll after poll shows the distance between American Catholics and
the small group of bishops claiming to speak on their behalf.”

The ad shows the realities of the
bishops’ campaign against women’s health and a bishop endorsed healthcare system
which would include:

o No access to
abortion—even in cases of rape or incest

o No in-vitro

o No contraception

o No treatment for
ectopic pregnancy

o No embryonic stem-cell

o No respect for your
advance medical directives

The ad
urges voters to contact their members of Congress in support of the inclusion of
coverage for abortion services in healthcare reform. O’Brien concluded,
“Congress has listened to the bishops, now it is time for Congress to listen to
American Catholics
who want comprehensive healthcare reform.”