U.S. Bishops Slam Relief Bill for Taxpayer-Funding of Abortions

Members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops gather for the USCCB's annual fall meeting, Monday, Nov. 12, 2018, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The leaders of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference (USCCB) blasted the Democrats’ passage of the American Rescue Plan on Wednesday, noting it lacked “critical protections” to protect taxpayers from financing abortions.

It is “unconscionable” that Congress passed the bill “without critical protections needed to ensure that billions of taxpayer dollars are used for life-affirming health care and not for abortion,” wrote the bishops in a statement, which was signed by the president of the USCCB as well as the chairmen of six major USCCB committees.

“Unlike previous COVID [coronavirus] relief bills, sponsors of the American Rescue Plan Act refused to include the longstanding, bi-partisan consensus policy to prohibit taxpayer dollars from funding abortions domestically and internationally,” the bishops declared.

The policy was needed, they continued, “because this bill includes many general references to healthcare that, absent the express exclusion of abortion, have consistently been interpreted by federal courts not only to allow, but to compel, the provision of abortion without meaningful limit.”

The bishops underscore their agreement with certain provisions in the plan but insist that the deliberate omission of protection against taxpayer-funded abortions vitiates the entire project.

“The many important, life-saving provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act have been undermined because it facilitates and funds the destruction of life, which is antithetical to its aim of protecting the most vulnerable Americans in a time of crisis,” they state.

In their statement, the bishops also noted that they had been proactive in reaching out “to every House and Senate office” as the American Rescue Plan Act was being written to clearly express their concerns, which have been completely disregarded.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the $1.9 trillion bill Wednesday by a partisan vote of 220-211 after the Senate had passed it on Saturday. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it on Friday.

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