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Let your voice be heard: Contact your elected officials on important issues Print
Editorial
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Apr. 04, 2013 -- 12:00 AM

Being an active citizen doesn’t end with voting. If we are truly concerned about the direction our country is taking at the state and federal levels, we should keep in touch with our elected officials between elections.

John Huebscher of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference wrote a recent “Eye on the Capitol” column encouraging state citizens to give attend and/or give testimony at budget hearings held at our state Capitol.

On the national level, there are important issues being addressed, too. Sometimes it may seem that the opinion of one person doesn’t matter. However, I think it is important to make sure our elected officials know where we stand. Perhaps one person can make a difference. Or one person combined with many others with the same opinion can change a senator’s or congressional representative’s mind.

Protecting conscience in health care

I recently wrote to our two Wisconsin senators — Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson —  and my House representative Mark Pocan on the importance of allowing all employers to be able to exercise their conscience in providing health care for their employees.
All three of these elected officials did respond to my letter, although only Senator Johnson indicated definite support for my position on this matter.

On March 4, Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) introduced the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (H.R. 940). This measure contains conscience protection language that is being seen as a way to correct the serious deficiencies in the administration’s health care mandate.

All members of Congress are asked to support the Health Care Conscience Rights Act and are urged to include the bill in “must-pass” legislation. House Members also are asked to cosponsor H.R. 940.

More information on conscience protection — including signing up for action alerts you can receive in your e-mail or phone — can be found at the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Web site at www.usccb.org or the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment Web site at www.nchla.org

Protecting the poor

Another key issue facing Congress is addressing the moral and human dimensions of the federal budget and protecting the poor.

“We support the goal of reducing future unsustainable deficits, but insist that this worthy goal be pursued in ways that protect poor and vulnerable people at home and abroad,” said Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace.

“The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless, or poor are treated. Their voices are too often missing, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources.

“The bishops stand ready to work with leaders of both parties for a budget that reduces future deficits, protects poor and vulnerable people, advances the common good, and promotes human life and dignity,” wrote the bishops in a March 18 letter to Congress.

The bishops support preserving programs that help the poor and vulnerable, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “food stamps”), poverty-focused international assistance programs, and funding for the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program.

In his inauguration Mass, Pope Francis urged the protection of human dignity. “To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love is to open up a horizon of hope,” he said.

Please consider contacting your elected officials about conscience protection, protecting the poor and vulnerable, and other important issues. Let your voice be heard. You can make a difference!

 
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