Friday, September 3, 2010

Health Care

Government-owned or subsidized health care is a hotly debated topic and one that sparks much fury from both sides of American politics. Here are some quotes from Bishop Nickless of Iowa that serve as a good reference point for both Catholics and non-Catholics on how to think about the situation:

"First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research. As a corollary of this, we insist equally on adequate protection of individual rights of conscience for patients and health care providers not to be made complicit in these evils. A so-called reform that imposes these evils on us would be far worse than keeping the health care system we now have."

“Second, the Catholic Church does not teach that “health care” as such, without distinction, is a natural right. The 'natural right' of health care is the divine bounty of food, water, and air without which all of us quickly die. This bounty comes from God directly. None of us own it, and none of us can morally withhold it from others. The remainder of health care is a political, not a natural, right, because it comes from our human efforts, creativity, and compassion. As a political right, health care should be apportioned according to need, not ability to pay or to benefit from the care. We reject the rationing of care. Those who are sickest should get the most care, regardless of age, status, or wealth. But how to do this is not self-evident. The decisions that we must collectively make about how to administer health care therefore fall under 'prudential judgment.'”

“Fourth, preventative care is a moral obligation of the individual to God and to his or her family and loved ones, not a right to be demanded from society. The gift of life comes only from God; to spurn that gift by seriously mistreating our own health is morally wrong. The most effective preventative care for most people is essentially free – good diet, moderate exercise, and sufficient sleep. But pre-natal and neo-natal care are examples of preventative care requiring medical expertise, and therefore cost; and this sort of care should be made available to all as far as possible."

So, in summary, healthcare is not a natural right but a right that comes from our human efforts and innovation. It should be rationed according to need, not according to wealth, status, or age. This requires the use of our prudential judgment. Any health care that violates the gift of life is not true health care. Preventative care is a moral responsiblity of the individual out of respect and care for the gift of life and health given to us by God.

You can find the rest of the article here:

1 comment:

  1. Alex,

    I have really enjoyed following your blog thus far. (I haven't read all your posts but many of them.)

    Regarding this post, I was wondering how you would address the issue if someone was to say that the legitimate right to education was not a natural right? The reason I ask, is that it could appear that this natural right, as put forth by Catholic social teaching, is a political right, because it is dependant on "human efforts, creativity, and compassion". A person cannot educate himself completely independent of the influence of others.

    A clear understanding of the difference between a natural right and all other rights is critical, because otherwise one would argue that health care is a right, etc.