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The health reform legislation now before the Senate is “an enormous disappointment, creating new and completely unacceptable federal policy that endangers human life and rights of conscience,” the chairmen of three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said on Nov. 20. A letter from the three chairmen outlining the U.S.C.C.B.’s problems with the Senate bill’s provisions on abortion and conscience protections, coverage of immigrants and affordability for low-income Americans went out about 24 hours before the Senate voted, 60 to 39, to begin debate on the legislation. The Senate’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “does not meet...moral criteria” outlined by the bishops, especially on the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, and should be opposed if it is not amended, according to Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishops William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and John C. Wester of Salt Lake City. They head the U.S.C.C.B. committees on Pro-Life Activities, on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and on Migration, respectively.

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