Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Texas Bishops on Healthcare Reform

The Texas Catholic Conference has released a statement on healthcare reform from the Bishops of Texas (pdf format):
Statement on Health Care Reform
From the Bishops of the Texas Catholic Conference
October 27, 2009

In 2005, the Texas Catholic Conference issued a pastoral statement on the urgent need for health care reform. Today, as the health care debate unfolds in our nation’s capitol, the Bishops of Texas feel it is once again appropriate to express hope that our national leaders will work together to bring about genuine life-affirming reform to our nation’s health care system.

Improving our nation’s health care system is the responsibility of all. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, addressing the Pontifical Council for Health Care, reiterated this responsibility, stating that “going to the aid of the human being is a duty: both in response to a fundamental right of the person and because the care of individuals redounds to the benefit of the group.”

Our Catholic moral tradition teaches that every human being, from the moment of conception to natural death, has an innate dignity that entitles him or her to certain rights and protections, including the fundamental right to life and the right to affordable healthcare, which flows from the right to life.

As the Catholic Bishops of Texas, we are hopeful that such reform legislation will someday be enacted into law. However, we must also express our concerns that the current healthcare reform proposals being considered by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate do not yet rise to the level of guaranteeing these fundamental rights and protections.

True health care reform must maintain longstanding public policies that restrict funding for abortion and respect the consciences of health care providers. The language in the Capps amendment, which is part of several proposed bills, does not adequately ensure the protection of all human life. In addition, the cost structures of any health care reform plan must not impose excessive financial burdens on low and moderate income individuals and families. Measures must also be in place to safeguard the health of all of society, including the poor, the elderly, and immigrants. Legal immigrants and their families must be allowed timely access to comprehensive and affordable health care coverage and an adequate safety net must be maintained for those who remain uncovered.

Health care reform is a vital concern to us in Texas, as our state has one of the highest numbers of uninsured persons in the nation. Health care is a fundamental component of the Catholic Church’s ministry. In Texas there are 43 Catholic acute care hospitals, 8 nursing homes and 17 other Catholic-sponsored service organizations including hospice, home health, assisted living, and senior housing facilities that provide quality health care to millions. The Church itself is a major purchaser of health insurance for the thousands of employees in our many agencies and institutions. The Catholic Church in Texas brings both everyday experience and strong convictions to the issue of health care reform.

The Catholic Bishops of Texas will continue to support reform of our nation's health care system in ways that respect the lives of all human persons while providing affordable access to health care for all. We will be a committed partner in advancing reform on this life-and-death issue; but if the final form of the legislation does not include acceptable language in these areas then we will have to oppose it vigorously. We will continue to pray that our national leaders will place the poor and those most vulnerable first, for only when they do will our nation achieve genuine health care reform.
Notice the challenge to those trying to reform healthcare. Do it right or we will oppose it!


Kevin said...

Thanks for posting the bishops' view on the issue. I wonder, though, what their response would be if the final bill provides health insurance for the uninsured, but does not prohibit paying for abortion (or leaves it up to the actual insurance provider)?

Will the bishops oppose reform anyway, holding help to the poor hostage to the issue of abortion? Will they let the perfect be the enemy of the good?

Marcel said...

Kevin - Some of us don't think that a nationalized healthcare system is the "good" thing to do anyway. There are other ways of helping the poor that don't necessarily include a government-run healthcare option. Which I personally oppose.

Marcel said...

Also, there is not true "health" or "care" in healthcare if there is support for abortion.

Kevin said...

Government-run health care: Fair point (although people seem to be happy with their VA service and Medicare).

Your second post points to my original question. If a health care bill makes it possible for an 8-year-old child to get insurance that covers such things as primary care and immunizations, isn't that both "health" and "care"? Regardless of what the bill says (or does not say) about abortion?

Marcel said...

No. Abortion is THE biggest issue facing our culture right now. We cannot give tacit approval to it by helping others.

You cannot do an evil act for a good intention.

Kevin said...

I imagine looking into the eyes of a 10-year-old and telling that to him. "We could take you to the doctor about your heart, but health care can only happen when EVERYONE is protected, not just you. You can suffer now, so that, some day, everyone can be saved." An adult can offer his or her suffering to Christ; it seems a hard thing to ask of a child.

In addition, such an attitude seems to posit that there is only one way to stop abortion, action on the national level.

People can still picket Planned Parenthood, or lobbying Congress or their state government for stricter protections. You can still open adoption agencies, care for pregnant women, and offer continuing aid to women and children after the birth.

The health care bills, as they stand, do not promote abortion. They do not prevent it, this is true. But since there are so many other avenues available to prevent abortion, wouldn't it make sense to save as many children with this bill, and then use other methods to save the rest?

Marcel said...

This bill would allow for the KILLING of innocent lives with YOUR money.

Also, any kid can be taken to a hospital for treatment in this country right now.

Kevin said...

Kids can always be taken to a hospital for emergency care, true. But kids can't be taken to a hospital for routine preventive care that may prevent a much worse illness.

The bill does not make the decision to abort a baby. The mother does that. Do we hold the health of many hostage so that we can control the decision of a few? Or do we work to change the mind of the few?

It is hard for me to see this as a black-and-white argument. The issue is not only preventing abortion. It's also about preserving the health of children.

Scuttling this bill because it allows for the death of children in the womb may mean that, due to poor health care, children will continue to die outside of the womb.

Marcel said...

Abortion is an absolute evil. Not having preventative healthcare is not an absolute evil. Apples to oranges. Yes, abortion is the bigger issue here and there really is not debate about it.

There is nothing "being held hostage" in this debate. Why can't those who desperately want health care let abortion go? This is the bigger question. If they can't, it tells you exactly where their priorities are. Not with children. But, with the abortionists and their lobby.

Marcel said...

The blame is on the pro-aborts, not the pro-lifers.

Kevin said...

Obviously there is debate about the issue. Perhaps there shouldn't be, but there is. Refusing to accept the existence of a debate does little, I'm afraid, to find a workable solution in a democratic society.

Without a workable solution, abortions will continue. And when children lack health care, they die. Do we Catholics only care about children while they are in the womb?

As always, I've enjoyed our discussion.


Marcel said...

Can there be a debate about how to best provide healthcare? There should be, but the pro-aborts are ramming this healthcare package down the throats of those who oppose it.

There is no debate, because there is no compromise on abortion. Abortion should not even be part of the discussion, but it is. We cannot compromise on that issue. Other things, absolutely. But not abortion.

Please don't try and pin a child's death on the US Bishops or Catholics who are trying to save the unborn. This isn't an either/or debate. We should work as hard as we can to help both.