Press Releases 2009

Senator Ben Nelson Puts US Bishops’ Interests Ahead of Americans’ Healthcare Needs

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Washington DC – Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement:

“Today, Senator Ben Nelson (D-Nebraska) put the policy priorities of the US Catholic bishops before the needs of women nationwide. Originally, Senator Nelson maintained that the abortion language in the healthcare bill was not a make-or-break factor in his vote.  This week, however, he hardened his stance on the abortion language, stating that he would not vote for a healthcare bill unless the restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions are tightened.  This shift can be attributed, at least in part, to the lobbying efforts of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Last Friday, Nelson said that he would not present his amendment to the healthcare bill until the bishops had   more time to review the language severely restricting the access for abortion coverage.

“Once again, the Catholic bishops are using their political clout and false claims that they represent US Catholics to influence politicians and their votes on healthcare reform.

“We know that the US bishops aim to restrict healthcare for women by refusing access to abortion, in-vitro fertilization, contraception and embryonic stem-cell research and continuing to disrespect advance medical directives. They do not represent the views of the vast majority of Catholics. In fact, the majority of Catholics do not want their bishops to be involved in this political issue at all.

“Once again, a small group of Catholic bishops have taken the reins of the healthcare debate. The Nelson/Hatch amendment (Amendment #2786) to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590) would be a devastating step backwards in providing critical healthcare services to women. Please join us in calling our Senators to defeat this restrictive amendment and to put forth a healthcare plan that is supported by all Americans, not just the US bishops.”

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Catholics for Choice shapes and advances sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to women's well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of women and men to make moral decisions about their lives.