Cardinal Mahony Says Abortion Issue in Health Bill is ‘Way Beyond My Field’

By Edwin Mora | September 22, 2009 | 6:52pm EDT
( - When asked whether he agreed with Cardinal Justin Rigali, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' pro-life committee, that the House health care bill funds abortion and needs to be amended to prohibit abortion funding, Cardinal Roger Mahony told that the issue of abortion funding in the health care bill is “way beyond my field.”

When asked whether he believed abortion should  be funded under the bill, Cardinal Mahony said: "No, but that's what the president said, too, so."

Mahony is the Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles. Rigali is the Roman Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia. 
On August 11, Cardinal Rigali sent a letter on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to members of the U.S. House of Representatives explaining in detail why the House health care bill would fund abortions.

“Because some federal funds are authorized and appropriated by this legislation without passing through the Labor/HHS appropriations bill, they are not covered by the Hyde amendment and other federal provisions that have long prevented federal funding of abortion and of health benefits packages that include abortion,” Rigali wrote in this letter.

“The committee rejected an amendment to extend this longstanding policy to the use of federal subsidies for health care premiums under this Act,” the cardinal wrote. “Instead the committee created a legal fiction, a paper separation between federal funding and abortion: Federal funds will subsidize the public plan, as well as private health plans that include abortion on demand; but anyone who purchases these plans is required to pay a premium out of his or her own pocket (specified in the Act to be at least $1.00 a month) to cover all abortions beyond those eligible for federal funds under the current Hyde amendment. Thus some will claim that federal taxpayer funds do not support abortion under the Act. But this is an illusion. Funds paid into these plans are fungible, and federal taxpayer funds will subsidize the operating budget and provider networks that expand access to abortions.”

When asked by whether he agreed with Cardinal Rigali that the bill funds abortion and should be amended to explicitly prohibit abortion funding, Cardindal Mahony said: “This is way beyond my field. My field is immigration. I really haven’t kept up on that, and I spend all my time on this other. You have to get somebody who spends time on that.”

When asked whether he believed abortion should be funded under the health care bill, Cardinal Mahony said: “No, but that’s what the president said, too, so.”

The cardinal spoke to at a Sept. 22 panel discussion in Washington, D.C., focusing on the involvement of faith communities in immigration reform. The event was sponsored by a liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress.

In his August 11 letter to members of the House of Representatives, Cardinal Rigali called on members to support amendments to correct the provisions in the bill that allow for abortion funding.

In direct contradiction to what Cardinal Rigali wrote in his letter to members of Congress, President Obama said in his speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 9 that the health care bill does not fund abortion. Previously, the president had said that people who say the health care bill funds abortion were fabricating.

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