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Catholics Do Not Support the Bishops’ Stance on Healthcare

October 13, 2009

Washington DC – Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued the following statement about the US bishops’ recent letter to Congress about healthcare reform:

“Last week, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) wrote a letter to Congress urging legislators to “produce final health reform legislation that will reflect our principles.” In the letter, the bishops laid out their three priorities; at the top of the list was strict opposition to abortion funding.

“The bishops’ principles may lead them to oppose funding for abortion. However, the bishops’ principles in no way reflect the principles of Catholics. According to a new poll of Catholic voters carried out by Belden Russonello and Stewart for Catholics for Choice, Catholics support a healthcare reform plan that would include funding for abortion.

“Large majorities of Catholic voters support health insurance coverage for abortions–either in a private- or a government-run scheme:

  • when a pregnancy poses a threat to the life of a woman (84 percent)
  • when a pregnancy is due to rape or incest (76 percent)
  • when a pregnancy poses long-term health risks for the woman (73 percent)
  • when test results show a fetus has a severe abnormal condition (66 percent)

“Opinion is split on whether insurance plans should cover abortion whenever a woman and her doctor decide it is appropriate (50 percent support and 50 percent oppose).

“Catholic voters believe the US Catholic bishops are wrong on healthcare reform. Sixty-eight percent 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.

“There are 65 million American Catholics. Their views should not be represented by the voices of a few bishops. To ensure the well-being of all, healthcare reform should be guided by evidence, science, medicine and the needs and wishes of the American people. We urge Congress to listen to the majority of Americans who want meaningful, comprehensive healthcare reform.”

The full findings of the poll are available at