In a parable, Jesus tells us that when seed falls on rich soil, it produces fruit, a hundred, or sixty, or thirty fold (cf. Matt. 13:8). The seeds, of course, are those who hear the word of God, understand it and act in response. Fertile soil and growing seeds are fitting images for the current health care reform debate in Washington, D.C.

Political analysts will long debate the success of the pro-life Stupak-Pitts amendment to the health care reform proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives; but there is little doubt that mobilized grassroots support had a big influence on the outcome.

With the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) leading the effort, thousands of people contacted Congress demanding that abortion funding be removed from the bill.

In the week before the vote, citizens sent 200,000 e-mails through USCCB’s advocacy web site and one Congressional office fielded over 2,000 phone calls in one day.

The Church teaches that all human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This is the foundation of our opposition to abortion and euthanasia.

The Church also teaches, “Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services” (Pacem in Terris, 1963).

If we believe what the Church teaches, we must work toward genuine health care reform that protects the lives and dignity of all. The Catholic Church sees this as a moral imperative and a vital national obligation.

According to a September 2009 survey, 67 percent of Americans oppose requiring people to pay for abortion coverage through their taxes. Many Americans are hearing and understanding that abortion is wrong, and they are taking action in droves. The overwhelming outcry of the public against abortion funding in health care reform is strong evidence that pro-life seeds are taking root.

This is good news, but the debate is far from over.

Now the Senate will consider its own proposal. It is critical that the Senate adopt the House-approved Stupak-Pitts language that restricts federal funding for elective abortions and plans that include elective abortions. This language ensures that Americans are not forced to pay for the destruction of unborn children as a part of needed health care reform.

The Senate must also address other essential moral priorities: protecting conscience rights, making health care more affordable and accessible for those without coverage, and ensuring that immigrants do not lose or will not be denied needed health care coverage.

We cannot allow the grassroots support for life and the dignity of the human person to wither. Genuine health care reform that protects the life and dignity of all can be accomplished if we allow our faith to take root in fertile soil.

Full debate on health care reform will move forward in the coming weeks. Contact Senators Arlen Specter and Robert Casey. Urge them to insist upon the House-approved Stupak Amendment that upholds longstanding policies against abortion funding, and please protect conscience rights in health care reform.


A.B. Hill is Communications Director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference – the public affairs arm of the Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania. To learn more from the PCC, visit