The USCCB, through Bishop William F. Murphy, placed a statement on the Congressional Record on May 20 at a formal round table discussion on "Expanding Health Care Coverage." The staatement is both pro life and pro healthcare reform. Catholic Online has the text and commentary, saying that it "presumes political realities" and that we must stand with our bishops and raise our voices loudly, as they are "our champions in this battle for Life over death".
The USCCB statement says, among other things:
The statement is also available for download on the USCCB page on Justice, Peace and Human Development.
This is something I have been meaning to write about when I have had the time to do more calm and reasoned research and reflection. So I suppose I will have more to say later.
I think it would be inconsistent to be pro-life for the unborn, the disabled, and those facing end-of-life decisions, while opposing healthcare reform when the number of uninsured in the U.S. is now estimated at 47 million people and rising.
I was glad to see Bishop Murphy's statement because "pro-life" has become such a championed cause of the Republican Party (at least in past years) while healthcare reform is currently seen as a championed cause of the Democrats. I have wanted to stick my neck out and agree with a liberal commenter elsewhere who meant to challenge a pro-life commenter by saying that you cannot be both pro-life and anti-healthcare reform.
Frankly, it puts us in a bit of a bind because the Republican Party, which has been our political supporter on abortion, has tended to view healthcare reform as a free enterprise issue and thus oppose a national healthcare plan, even one in competition with the for-profit health insurers. I don't think healthcare is rightly viewed as a free enterprise vs. socialism issue. Historically, U.S. health care, including U.S. health insurance, has been largely provided by not-for-profit organizations, and not by businesses.
In California, historically, two primary choices were Kaiser Permanente (which is still non-profit), which was an HMO before HMO's became fashionable, and Blue Cross (which used to be non-profit). Our hospitals still include a large number of non-profit hospitals, including our University of California healthcare systems (owned by the state-run U.C. medical schools -- and yes, I actually donate a little bit more than I pay in bills to a government-owned healthcare system, and it is probably the highest quality healthcare system in our state); Catholic hospitals; various associations of non-profit hospitals such as Sutter Healthcare in the Bay Area; and regional public "district hospitals".
So, personally, the idea of championing "free enterprise" in treating healthcare coverage as a for-profit business does not ring any liberty bells with me. Nor do I believe that a government health plan for the poor and the uninsured middle class will cause the quality of healthcare to drop.
I suppose that, once I have a better idea of how to write about an emotional issue in a way that is appropriate to this blog, I will need a category for it. The existing categories on abortion, freedom of conscience, and human rights have overlapped more than I thought they would. I will probably change the name of one of those to "healthcare" and reorganize a bit within those categories rather than adding a new one.
Meanwhile, thank you bishops! I think Bishop Murphy's call was a good one, and it makes me feel more comfortable saying here that I am pro-life and pro-healthcare reform, and I think it is a consistent position on the issues.