Health Deserves Better

Sanctity of life is the single most important issue that we face in our nation today. No life is more vulnerable than the child in the womb. And that life must be protected. All that Blessed Pope Paul VI predicted in his prescient 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” has come true: a contraceptive mentality will lead to an abortive mentality. And when the transmission of life is cheapened, when the conjugal act is misunderstood, then the life, which is a gift from God the Creator, is considered to be cheap, easy and disposable.

The 2017 proposed American Health Care Act, withdrawn by House Republicans on March 24, could be commended for its strong anti-abortion stances. Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Fla., who serves as the chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, lauded the proposed bill for its “critical life protections.” However, he stated that some of the other provisions, namely those related to Medicaid and tax credits are “troubling” and “must be addressed.”

The ACA was strong on restricting funding to abortion providers, and prohibiting the allotment of federal funding for abortion or the purchase of plans that provide abortions. However, the ACA did not indicate “any changes” from the current law regarding conscience protections against mandates to provide certain coverage or services considered morally objectionable by employers and health care providers. This is a major problem.

Even more of a problem is the failure of the bill to provide care for those who are the poorest and most marginalized in society. If we fail to care for the poor, if we neglect those who need housing and maternity care, if we neglect mothers who are struggling and who need drug rehabilitation, then we are not acting in a consistent, truly “pro-life” mentality. A true pro-life mentality needs to offer a consistent ethic of respect for human life from conception to natural death, and this includes a commitment to the poor.

We urge lawmakers to take their time with the next version of the ACA, to consult those who work with the poor and in health care, especially Catholic health care, and above all, to offer a plan that is truly pro-life, from the womb to the tomb, caring consistently for all of God’s people, born and unborn.

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