The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, fresh off their abortion victory on health care legislation in the House, has joined the battle in the Senate and called for the same amendment that it pushed through the House.
In a letter Friday (PDF) to Senators, the bishops said that the language in the current bill put forth by Democratic leaders violates the principle that federal funds should not be used for abortions. If it is not amended, they said, the bill should be opposed.
The letter appears to be the opening salvo in what is expected to be a major battle over abortion in the Senate in the coming weeks.
It was the bishops who negotiated the last-minute language in the House bill on Nov. 7 that paved the way for an amendment that the letter says “simply keeps in place existing policy” against allowing federal dollars to be used for abortion services.
Abortion-rights supporters fiercely dispute that view and say the amendment severely restricts women’s access to health insurance for abortions.