Nebraska Pastors Urge Nelson To Support Health Care Reform

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The effort to persuade Sen. Ben Nelson to end his threat to filibuster health care reform without tougher restrictions on abortion have resulted in an interesting role reversal: three Nebraska pastors are now urging the senator to support the bill.

Revs. Bert Thelen, S.J., Jane Florence and David Lux took to the pages of the Omaha World Herald on Friday in an op-ed that framed the need for health care reform as a moral imperative. The trio didn't address the issue of abortion directly. But their pleas to Nelson to help pass reform (and "ensure" his legacy in Nebraska) seem to indicate that Nelson should save his concerns over abortion for another day.

As Nebraska faith leaders, we call for systemic change that is guided by the following principles based on our religious values. We support universal access to good-quality health care that: (1) Provides comprehensive and affordable coverage for all. (2) Eliminates health care disparities. (3) Includes effective cost containment. (4) Simplifies administration. (5) Eliminates pre-existing condition exclusions from coverage.

We turn to U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson, knowing he stands with us as a person of faith. As governor, he left a lasting and important legacy of strong public insurance programs such as Kids Connection and CHIP, which provides insurance to thousands of Nebraskans who would otherwise join the uninsured.

Now we turn to him again to leave another legacy: health care for all Nebraskans. If we can fix the broken health care system, we can ensure that Nelson's legacy in Nebraska is continued with his vote this year to pass health reform.

We thank Sen. Nelson for continuing to make health care a priority for all Nebraskans and for leaving a legacy of healthy Nebraskans.

Considering how radioactive the issue of abortion is in this debate and overall, its seems likely that the three pastors are sticking their necks out a bit with this op-ed. That said, the Catholic Health Association -- which has about 20 hospitals in Nebraska -- has already endorsed abortion language in the Senate health care bill that falls short of the restrictive provision passed by the House. And so have have more than 30 pro-life Evangelical leaders including several National Association of Evangelicals board members.

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