Bishops to Congress
April 14, 2011
In an April 13 letter to the U.S. House of Representatives, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo urged Congress to vote for a resolution to ban federal funding of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In the midst of a budget debate involving shared sacrifice and hard choices, Cardinal DiNardo wrote, "Whether to fund the largest abortion network in the country is not one of those hard choices."
Cardinal DiNardo is chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
Cardinal DiNardo cited a March 4 letter to Congress from Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, which expressed the hope that "funds now provided to organizations that perform abortions… will be redirected to meeting the basic needs of the poor." Cardinal DiNardo offered additional reasons for supporting H. Con. Res. 36:
• "Second, the organization's involvement in abortion (now including chemical abortions using RU-486) has substantially increased in recent years, and its provision of other services such as prenatal care and adoption referrals has declined markedly. Now the national organization insists that all affiliates provide abortions by 2013, a mandatory policy that has led at least one affiliate to leave the organization."
• "Third, the organization has led numerous legislative campaigns and litigation strategies to oppose any meaningful limits on abortion, including modest measures such as public funding bans, informed consent provisions, and parental notice requirements for abortions on unemancipated minors. One of Planned Parenthood's legislative priorities is to oppose conscience clauses (which it calls "refusal clauses"), so that hospitals, physicians and nurses will not be allowed to serve the health care needs of women without taking part in abortion."
Cardinal DiNardo wrote that some, in an effort to divert the discussion away from abortion, have tried to make the debate about women's access to basic health care. He noted that Catholic and other religiously affiliated health care providers generally do provide mammograms, prenatal and maternity care for women, while Planned Parenthood does not.
"To the extent that Planned Parenthood does provide any legitimate health services for women, however, those services can be provided by others, since H. Con. Res. 36 does not reduce funding for services by one cent," Cardinal DiNardo wrote. "Therefore the question at issue here is: When low-income women need these legitimate health care services, should the federal government insist that they receive them from the local abortion provider?"
The full text of Cardinal DiNardo's letter is available online.