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July 22, 1994     The Message
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July 22, 1994

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1994 The Message --for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Bishop's Forum -- Christian duty: Public witness Once again each of us has an opportunity to bear witness to the of our faith in the public You may have read that the Catholic Bishops of the United States have taken a public stand respect to the health care re- in our country, after many discreet attempts to get a hearing the leaders of the current with our objection abortion has no place in care. Killing is neither car- g or curing. ::: Further, we have taken a position that there be some form of univer- health care coverage. The ranks of the unin-  Ittred exceed 37 million children, women and men, of whom are among the poorest of our coun- need medical care as much as those who afford it. Our Catholic hospital and health systems have been so generous in caring for who have no resources. Along with the pub- ByBISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER lic assistance to the poor is causing the costs of health care to soar with no source of relief. One of the arguments that the proponents of abortion rights use as strength for their position is that children who are unplanned, un- wanted, and unprovided for are a burden on society, hence they should not be allowed to be born. As an exercise in logic, I suggest that you extend that same thinking to the human beings of our world who are disabled, non-productive, suf- fering from dementia, have crip- pling conditions. Why should they live?! Why should we waste medical care on such? The slippery slope of ease is deadly. Indeed it is immoral. With the creativity demonstrated leading to the landing on the moon, we can do better. This country, you and me with its leadership, has a moral imperative to use the same creativity in car- ing for our people. Although we can never presume to be gods, we are obligated to use our resources as stewards of life -- not just things. The abortion industry has exercised creativity in getting new business. When money and materi- alism is the driving force for governance in a democracy, you and I must ask who allowed such an example of immorality to flourish. The tragic image is reflected in the mirror! I shall never forget the feeling in my inmost being after walking silently and alone through the memorial known as "Dachau" near Munich, Ger- many. Unless you speak up, the pledge of "Nie Wieder" or "Never Again" will only be a cry from historians and others, including Catholic Bishops. Keep constantly before our elected officials your personal support of the care for life -- not the industry of death. Write your Senators Lugar and Coats and Congressmen McCloskey and Hamilton. Although I trust in their personal moral principles, however, they are human beings who may be tempted to waver when pressured in the heat of political battle. Support them in positive values, challenge them to be faithful to life. iana bishops urging Catholics to express concern R. LEINGANG Message editor decisions on national care will be made over SUmmer and the Catholic are pulling out alrl the their efforts to ensure ,heir two key messages heard by Congress, to an "Action Alert" Indiana Catholic Con- Gerald A. Gettelfin- other bishops in Indi- contacted Senators Lugar and Dan Coats. Gettelfinger has also to U.S. Representa- Frank McCloskey and of the letter was pub- the July 8 issue of the central message of the bishops to congress and to the Catholic community is stress- ing "the need for comprehen- sive health care reform which includes universal coverage and excludes abortion man- dates," according to the ICC. Bishops in Indiana are urg- ing Catholics to get involved by writing letters to their federal representatives, to "assure uni- versal coverage and keep abor- tion out of the benefits pack- age." The ICC lists six reasons why universal coverage should be included: 1) The Church will measure reform by how completely and effectively it achieves coverage, with a priority concern for the poor, unserved, and undocu- mented. 2) Almost two-thirds of in- sured Americans who lose their health insurance lose it at the work place following a job loss or a job change or a de- crease in work hours. 3) Polls show that health care remains among the top three of the most important problems Americans believe face the country. 4) Americans identify waste, greed, fraud, and profiteering by the health care industry as primary culprits in health care costs. 5) 64 percent of all Ameri- cans said they were willing to pay higher taxes to provide health insurance to all Ameri- cans. 6) The public generally sup- ports the requirement that all employers contribute to their employees' health insurance. Support increases when subsi- dies for small businesses are included. The ICC lists five reasons to exclude abortion coverage: 1) It is ethically wrong. 2) State and federal prece- dents are against it. 3) Public opinion is against it. A January 1994 poll by the University of Cincinnati Med- ical Center found 69 percent opposed to abortion inclusion (even if it could be included free of charge). 4) Mandated abortion cover- age attacks individual con- sciences. Many plans would re- quire everyone to buy coverage for this destructive and contro- versial procedure and subsi- dize it for others. 5) The irony of this situation is clear. For 20 years abortion advocates have insisted on calling themselves "pro- choice," and said the real issue in abortion is, "Who decides -- the individual woman or the government?" Now American woman have said in numerous surveys that they do not want mandated abortion coverage -- and abortion advocates insist that government must impose it on them regardless. The bishops urge Catholics to express their concern. Letters may be sent to The Honorable Richard Lugar, and to The Honorable Dan Coats, United States Senate, Wash. ington, D.C. 20510. Letters may be sent to The Honorable Franh McCloskey, and to the Honorable Lee H. Hamilton, U.S. House of Repre- sentatives, Washington, D.C 20515. hops' campaign "to reignite the flickering debate' NANCYFRAZIER O'BRIEN News Service (CNS) -- a new survey that most Americans support coverage and oppose coverage in health reforms, the U.S. bishops Lg a grass- roots to reignite the flick- care debate. time to swing into high Said Bishop James T. of Camden, N.J., a of the bishops' Corn- on Pro- Life Activities, 13 )ress conference Press Club in message (to Congress) and unambiguous -- universal coverage take the abortion man- out, said Auxiliary H. Ricard of Balti- ' chairman of the bishops' Policy Committee. conference partici- Stood in front of boxes an estimated half of the 5 million post- Sent to Congress as part National Project Life Sunday campaign against abortion coverage in health care earlier this year. As part of the new cam- paign, those who signed the cards will be asked to contact their congressional representa- tives again to reiterate their desire that mandated ,abortion coverage be excluded from any health care reform plan, said Helen Alvare, director of plan- ning and information for the bishops' Secretariat for Pro- Life Activities. Other aspects of the cam- paign include placement of print, radio and television ads supporting the dual goals of universal coverage and no abortion mandate; a Project Life hot line (800-451-3344) providing Western Union telegrams to two senators and a representatives for a $8.95 fee; and a new letter from Catholic leaders to Congress. "We will continue to work for true reform, but we vigorously oppose measures that advance an abortion agenda in place of a real commitment to univer- sal coverage," said the July 13 letter signed by Bishop Ricard; Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles, chairman of the pro-life committee; and Arch- bishop William H. Keeler of Baltimore, president of the Na- tional Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Abortion mandates are op- posed by the American people; they will force millions of em- ployers, churches and individu- als to subsidize abortion in vio- lation of their consciences; they will jeopardize the future of Catholic and other religious providers of health care; and they will destroy the chances for real reform," the letter added. "We are determined to persuade Congress to elimi- nate abortion mandates on the floor and we promise our vigor- ous opposition to any legisla- tion that includes them." The national survey released at the press conference showed that although 70 percent of Americans support universal coverage, the inclusion of abor- tion coverage in all the major plans currently under consid- eration in Congress erodes overall support for any re- forms. The survey was conducted June 25-28 for the NCCB by The Tarrance Group, a Texas- based national survey research firm. Only 26 percent of the re- spondents were Catholics. Forty-nine percent of the re- spondents said they would op- pose health care reform "if it required that abortions for any reason must be covered by every insurance policy," while 38 percent said they would favor reform under those cir- cumstances. The rest were un- decided or said their response would depend on other factors. An even higher percentage 65 percent -- said they would oppose health care re- form "if it required that cover- age of abortions for any reason be taxpayer-subsidized. Twenty-four percent said they would favor reform in that case. Fifty-eight percent said they were opposed to health care re- form "if it required you to carry an insurance policy that cov- ered abortion for you and your family," Thirty percent said they would favor reform in that situation. The margi n of error for the survey was 3.1 percentage points. The survey found much con- fusion among respondents about if and when their cur- rent medical insurance covers abortions. Asked whether their present health plan covers abortions, 58 percent said they were unsure. Thirty-five per- cent said it was not covered, and 9 percent said it was. Asked under what condi- tions or circumstances abortion was covered, 39 percent said they didn't know. Eighteen percent said abortion was cov- ered in any and all circum- stances, and another 18 per- cent said it was covered for "high-risk health reasons" in- volving life and death. Other speakers at the press conference were Sister Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity and president of Providence Hospital in Washington, and Annette Kane, director of the National Council of Catholic Women. We are angry that abortion proponents are using health care reform as just another ve- hicle to force abortion into our families and into our communi- ties," said M& Kane.