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Kathleen Kennedy Townsend enters the health reform fray on abortion

Maryland's former Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend takes aim at American Catholic Bishops' support of restricting abortion funding in health care reform legislation.

In this fiery Op-Ed in the Politico, published just before the Senate defeated an amendment this week that would place new abortion restrictions in the health care bill, she lashes out at bishops she says have "lost their way."

As a Catholic and neice to the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, a health care reform champion, she seems to take the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops actions personally. The influential bishops have emerged as a force in the health care debate, heavilly lobbying lamwakers and sending alerts to followers urging them to support the Senate amendment.

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Townsend urges the bishops not to let the single issue of abortion prevent what she sees as a moral imperative of expanding health care to those who need it most.

This isn't the first time she's spoken out on the issue.

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Her thoughts echo this LA Times column, which warns health care reform is in jeopardy of being "made hostage to this most divisive of issues." While the Senate defeated the amendment, the House version of the bill includes restrictions on federal funding of abortions. The issue could imperil passage of a health care bill, The Hill reports.

And yet, others -- beyond the bishops and their followers -- argue they simply cannot support reform that does not include restrictions on federal funding for abortions.

So, Picture of Health readers, weigh in on this. What do you make of the tug of war over abortion in health reform? I'm intrigued to know your thoughts on this explosive topic.

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