Not long after Nancy Pelosi unveiled the 1,990-page House health-care reform bill Oct. 29, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued an urgent call to arms.

The House bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, contains provisions for the public funding of abortions under a new health-care delivery and financing scheme in America. All Americans will pay for other people’s abortions, whether they are opposed to the practice or not.

Hours after Pelosi unveiled the legislation, the bishops conference sent bulletin inserts to almost 19,000 parishes across the country urging parishioners to lean on their elected representatives on this issue.

In particular, Pelosi, well known by now to be a pro-abortion Catholic, is resisting efforts to allow any amendments to be introduced to the bill. Michigan Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak wants to introduce an amendment to block public subsidies for abortions and to strengthen conscience rights for health-care institutions and individuals.

Stupak, a pro-life Catholic, has said recently that he’s organized a group of about 40 Democrats who will join him in voting to block the bill from coming to a vote on the House floor unless Pelosi agrees to allow a straight up or down vote on his amendment.

According to a CNSNews.com Oct. 30 report, the bill envisions creating “exchanges” in each state that would be the only place people receiving federal health-insurance subsidies would be allowed to buy insurance. It also includes an amendment by Rep. Lois Capps, D-Calif., that would require that at least one health insurance plan in each of these exchanges cover abortions. Stupak’s proposed amendment would nullify Capps’ by stating that no federal money could pay for any part of any insurance plan that covers abortion.

“Health-care reform should be about saving lives, not destroying them,” the bishops stated. “If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed.”

—John Burger