Prelate Protests Abortion in US Military Hospitals. Says Armed Forces Want to Protect Life, Not Destroy It
WASHINGTON, D.C., JULY 1, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops' conference pro-life committee chairman is urging lawmakers to uphold current policy prohibiting U.S. military hospitals, and other federal health facilities, from performing abortions.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, stated this in a letter sent Tuesday to the U.S. senators.
He asked that the lawmakers, when they review the National Defense Authorization Act for 2011, would "remove from the bill a misguided committee amendment" that authorizes abortions at military hospitals both in the United States and worldwide.
The prelate backed Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, who also sent a letter to the senators on June 17, "urging congress not to impose this tremendous burden on the consciences of Catholic and other health care personnel who joined our armed services to save and protect innocent life, not to destroy it."
Cardinal DiNardo noted the "longstanding government policy" that has barred the use of military facilities for elective abortions since 1988. He acknowledged that President Bill Clinton changed the policy briefly in 1993, but two years later, in 1995, congress restored the ban, which has "remained intact for the last 15 years"
He underlined the fact that "during the brief period when these facilities were told to make abortions available, scarcely any military physician could be found in overseas facilities who was willing to perform abortions."
The prelate continued, "Proposals for hiring private physicians from outside the system, or for taking a more coercive attitude toward military physicians and nurses, were never implemented because congress acted in a timely way to restore the morally sound policy."
He asserted that this policy is consistent with other federal health facilities, which are also prohibited from being used for abortions, "and many states have their own laws against use of public facilities" for this.
The cardinal debunked the claim by amendment supporters that this is a "moderate policy" because "patients will have to pay the facility to perform the abortion."
"But this is disingenuous, to say the least," he asserted. "Which is a more direct governmental involvement in abortion: That the government reimburses someone else for having done an abortion, or that the government performs the abortion itself and accepts payment for doing so?"
"This amendment presents congress with the very straightforward question whether it is the task of our federal government to directly promote and facilitate elective abortions," Cardinal DiNardo affirmed.
He observed that the "president and congressional leadership assured us that they agree it is not."
The cardinal urged senators not to approve this bill until the original version is restored, to maintain the "longstanding current policy on abortion as the house version of this legislation has already done."