New Jersey bishops call for healthcare reform

09.04.09 – Bishop Joseph A. Galante of Camden and Bishop John M. Smith of Trenton have called on three area congressional representatives to adopt “fair and just” health care reform.

In an August 26 joint letter to Representatives Frank LoBiondo, John Adler and Robert Andrews, the bishops wrote, “Health care is not just another issue for the Church…it is a fundamental issue of human life and dignity.”

Stating that health care reform is a “moral imperative and vital national obligation,” the bishops note the unique perspective of the Catholic community. “Our teaching insists health care is a right and should not depend on where your parents work, where you live, where you were born or how old you are. Our tradition insists that the moral measure of health care reform is how it touches the weak and vulnerable, babies in their mother’s womb, and the very sick and old at the end of life, those without access and power.”

The bishops emphasize in the letter that they want to support health care reform, citing key principals which include a truly universal health policy that pursues the common good with respect for human life and dignity; access for all with a special concern for the poor and inclusion of legal immigrants; preserving pluralism including freedom of conscience and variety of options; restraining costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers.

The bishops also caution that the Church cannot support legislation that would abandon existing conscience protections, as well as policies that prohibit either government funding of abortion or mandatory abortion coverage in health care plans. They urge the congressmen to uphold existing policies on abortion funding, mandates and conscience protections “because they represent sound morality, wise policy and political reality.”
An “action alert” posted on the website of the Diocese of Camden calls on Catholics in the six counties of South Jersey to contact area legislators urging them to adopt comprehensive healthcare reform, while including amendments that retain existing restrictions on federal funding of abortion in these health care plans.