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Catholic Bishops Shouldn't Interfere on Women's Health Rights

Statement of Reverend Dr. Carlton W. Veazey, President and CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:

The now infamous Stupak-Pitt Amendment to the House health care
bill won't only trample women’s access to abortion, as devastating as
that is. It will also trample their faith and conscience.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California stated the issue clearly in floor
debate on the bill: "We're a democracy, not a theocracy."

If the Stupak Amendment is the beginning of a trend, the Catholic bishops
may be dictating policy on a number of social issues.

To be clear, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops inserted into the House bill. The members
of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice - Christian and Jewish
denominations - and millions of Americans of all faiths do not share the
Catholic bishops' doctrine on reproductive issues and do not want the bishops'
views to determine how they live their lives.

Virtually all religious denominations that have taken a position on health
care reform have agreed it should be abortion neutral - that is, it should not
change existing policy on abortion coverage. Clearly, the Catholic bishops'
group is not willing to honor that position. So let's call this "compromise"
what it is: an encroachment on the separation of religion and state and an
affront to a basic constitutional principle.

The fact that the Catholic
hierarchy can dictate what Congress can legislate should be disturbing to all
Americans, regardless of their position on abortion or contraception. President Obama said on Monday thathe wanted to adjust the
abortion language in the health care bill so that "neither side feels that
it's being betrayed." But thispush for “common ground”
on abortion is partly responsible for the House of Representatives’ retreat on
women's health care - along with the Democratic Party's recruitment of pro-life
candidates. Common ground is a misleading term. The Catholic bishops and their
allies never ceded any ground. The Democratic Party has a lot to answer for in
terms of pushing back women's rights.


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