Catholic nuns break with bishops and urge passage of health care reform.

In recent weeks, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been outspoken in its opposition to the Senate health care bill, saying that it doesn’t sufficiently restrict federal funds from being used for insurance coverage of abortions. However, in an “unusual public break,” a group of nuns — “60 leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 Catholic nuns” — has sent Congress a letter urging lawmakers to pass health care reform and ignore the “false claims” floating around about abortion. From the letter:

The health care bill that has been passed by the Senate and that will be voted on by the House will expand coverage to over 30 million uninsured Americans. While it is an imperfect measure, it is a crucial next step in realizing health care for all. It will invest in preventative care. It will bar insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It will make crucial investments in community health centers that largely serve poor women and children. And despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions. It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments – $250 million – in support of pregnant women. This is the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it.

The bishops are increasingly alone in their position. Last week, both the Catholic Health Association and a group of 25 “pro-life Catholic theologians and Evangelical leaders” also sent Congress letters supporting the Senate bill.