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Biden claims the pope and ‘not all’ bishops are against taxpayer funded abortion

February 1, 2023 Catholic News Agency 3
President Joe Biden responds to a question from EWTN’s Owen Jensen about the Catholic bishops’ position on federal funding of abortion. / EWTN

Washington D.C., Feb 1, 2023 / 11:45 am (CNA).

Despite a clear letter from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) calling for “no taxpayer funding for abortion,” President Joe Biden this week claimed that Pope Francis and some bishops are not in agreement with this policy. 

EWTN White House Correspondent Owen Jensen had a brief exchange with Biden this week in which he began a question by informing the president that “Catholic bishops are demanding that federal tax dollars not fund abortions.” 

Biden responded, saying: “No, they are not all doing that, nor is the pope doing that.”

Despite the president’s claims, he did not cite any bishops who support taxpayer-funded abortions, nor did he expand on his invocation of Pope Francis, who has consistently condemned abortion and even equated it to “hiring a hitman.” 

The exchange occurred after the USCCB’s pro-life committee took a firm stance in support of the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act. The legislation would prohibit the use of federal funds for abortion and prohibit federal funds for health care plans that cover abortions. There would be exceptions for rape, incest, and when the mother’s life is in danger.

Although Congress consistently passes annual appropriation bills that include bans on federal agencies funding abortion, there is no law that establishes a permanent ban. This means the policy could change if the language is not included in a certain appropriations bill. This bill would apply the standard to every federal agency permanently. Under the language used in current appropriation bills, federal agencies are still allowed to enroll workers in health care plans that cover abortion, but the premium cannot be subsidized by the agencies. This bill would expand the restrictions by prohibiting the agencies from enrolling workers in plans that cover abortion. 

In the letter sent by USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities’ Chair Bishop Michael Burbidge, the bishop said “abortion is an uncompassionate response to a difficult pregnancy” that “pits a mother in crisis against her preborn child.”

“Protecting taxpayers from being forced to pay for abortion in violation of their conscience is a principle that has enjoyed historically broad support among Americans, regardless of their otherwise passionately divided views on the topic,” Bishop Burbidge said. “It has also been life-saving. …Congress can better serve the common good by prioritizing policies that comprehensively assist women, children, and families in need in ways that will not only encourage childbirth but make it easier to welcome and raise a new child.”

In response to Biden’s claims, Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler in Texas accused the president of twisting Pope Francis’s words. 

“Mr. Biden can’t be allowed to twist the words of Pope Francis in this way,” the bishop tweeted. “I implore the Vatican press office to emphatically clarify that Pope Francis rightly calls abortion murder. It is time to denounce Biden’s fake Catholicism.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Church has affirmed that abortion is evil since the first century and continues to do so. 

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” the catechism states. “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”

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