(CNSNews.com) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D.-Calif.) on Thursday thanked God for Roman Catholic nuns who helped pass a “life-affirming” health care reform bill that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposed on the grounds that it funded abortion.
"We believe that the health care initiative was respecting the dignity and worth of every person," Pelosi, a Catholic, told the Catholic Community Conference Thursday on Capitol Hill. "I thank so many of you who helped get that passed. Thank God for the nuns. Thank God for the nuns.”
Pelosi continued, “Thank God for the nuns -- and nuns, imagine, 15, 16 leaders of orders representing 59,000 orders -- and I didn’t realize it was Dominican, Benedictine and Franciscan, Notre Dame de Namur, Notre Dame School Sisters, every possible kind of name you can think of, there they were on the list. And they wrote to us saying, ‘We support this life-affirming legislation.’ We were so proud of them and they helped us do just that."
Abortion was a controversial issue in the health care bill. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in numerous letters to Congress, including Pelosi, detailed how the health care bill provided federal funding of health insurance plans that cover abortion services. Pelosi, however, said the bill does not fund abortion.
The bill ultimately passed in March without language that specifically prohibits federal funds from going to health insurance plans that cover abortion.
In a statement following passage of the bill, the head of the USCCB, Cardinal Francis George, wrote: “(F)or whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions. …
“Many in Congress and the Administration, as well as individuals and groups in the Catholic community, have repeatedly insisted that there is no federal funding for abortion in this statute and that strong conscience protection has been assured. Analyses that are being published separately show this not to be the case, which is why we oppose it in its current form.
“As bishops of the Catholic Church, we speak in the name of the Church and for the Catholic faith itself.”
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