Cardinal praises conscience provisions in House appropriations bill
Published: July 20, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities praised lawmakers for including two conscience provisions in the House version of the 2013 appropriations bill for the federal departments of Labor and Health and Human Services. "Our government has a long history of respecting rights of conscience in health care, and the time is long overdue to reaffirm this laudable tradition in the face of today's growing threats," Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said in a July 17 letter to members of the House Subcommittee on Labor/HHS. Cardinal DiNardo said the provision called the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, which had 124 co-sponsors from both parties, "will reaffirm the basic principle that no health care entity should be forced by government to perform, participate in or pay for abortions." The other provision is the Respect for Right of Conscience Act, which Cardinal DiNardo said would "counter a policy that poses the most direct federal threat to religious freedom in recent memory," a reference to the "HHS mandate" requiring most religious organizations to include sterilizations and contraceptive coverage -- including those that could cause early abortions -- in their employee health care plans. The subcommittee was preparing to mark up the appropriations bill for eventual action by the House Appropriations Committee and then the full House. The Senate Appropriations Committee had done its own markup, first in subcommittee and then in full committee, June 12 and 14. "The endgame for a final appropriations bill is unknown at this time, but agreement between the two houses of Congress is likely to be late fall or early winter at the earliest," said a June 18 statement from Directors of Health Promotion and Education, a trade group.
Copyright (c) Catholic News Service /U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The CNS news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed, including but not limited to such means as framing or any other digital copying or distribution method, in whole or in part without the prior written authority of Catholic News Service .