Politics

Bishops Reassert: Executive Order Won’t Fix Abortion Problem

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sent the following to congressional aides reasserting the bishops’ position that an executive order to ban federal funding of abortion won’t fix the abortion problems in the health care bill.

To: Congressional Aides

We’ve consulted with legal experts on the specific idea of resolving the abortion funding problems in the Senate bill through executive order.We know Members have been looking into this in good faith, in the hope of limiting the damage done by abortion provisions in the bill.  We believe, however, that it would not be fair to withhold what our conclusion was, as it may help  members in assessing the options before them: 

"One proposal to address the serious problem in the Senate health care bill on abortion funding, specifically the direct appropriating of new funds that bypass the Hyde amendment, is to have the President issue an executive order against using these funds for abortion.  Unfortunately, this proposal does not begin to address the problem, which arises from decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v.Wade to federal health legislation.  According to these rulings, such health legislation creates a statutory requirement for abortion funding,unless Congress clearly forbids such funding.  That is why the Hyde amendment was needed in 1976, to stop Medicaid from funding 300,000 abortions a year.  The statutory mandate construed by the courts would override any executive order or regulation.  This is the unamimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts we have consulted on abortion jurisprudence.  Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation."

Richard Doerflinger
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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