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Nuns, bishops and U.S. health-care reform

Saturday, March 20, 2010; A14

In E.J. Dionne Jr.'s March 18 op-ed column, "Listen to the nuns," Sister Carol Keehan, president and chief executive of the Catholic Health Association, was quoted as suggesting that Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, misrepresented CHA's position on the health-care bill in a statement Cardinal George issued March 15.

What must be known is that Cardinal George stated what Sister Carol herself said in a March 11 letter from CHA to the House of Representatives. In it, she wrote that CHA "believes the Senate legislation should be amended through a 'corrections' bill to address the following issues." Sister Carol listed five points, the last of which reads, "The bill should ensure that the final, overall health reform package will provide no federal funding for abortion."

Mr. Dionne, who also accused the bishops of misrepresenting Sister Carol, wrote that her organization believes the bill does not fund abortion as it is currently written and therefore "does not need to be corrected."

Cardinal George's statement reflected the March 11 letter from Sister Carol. To suggest otherwise now is puzzling at best. The U.S. bishops have not misrepresented CHA's stated position.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Washington

The writer is director of media relations for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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