WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) – Along with most of the Nation I will be sitting in front of the Television this evening, watching our President speak to the joint session of Congress. The topic is, as everyone knows by now, Health Care Reform. There is no doubt; the Nation is engaged in a robust debate. The majority of Americans are growing increasingly suspicious of several aspects of the proposed Health Care Reform package. Now, the word has come from the Obama administration that the President will lay out his own specific plan or at least the main points which he will insist upon.
Catholics, other Christians, other people of faith and all truly Pro-Life people of good will have succeeded in bringing to the forefront the most important concern of all, our obligation to protect human life and human dignity. Federal Funds must not be used to promote the taking of innocent human life through intentional abortion, PERIOD. No matter how many times the danger of this happening is denied by proponents, it remains. It is most clearly present in any so called “Public” or “Government” Option. The Anti-Life effects of such a “Government Option” has all but killed any hope the US administration had of receiving support from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
As Bill Donohue notes in the article published below this story: “No segment of American society has been more supportive of universal health care than the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Moreover, this isn’t something new: the bishops have a long-standing commitment to health care reform. Their support, then, for the very bills endorsed by the president should be a slam dunk. Just the opposite is true—they’ve walked away from the table. All because of abortion.”
There are other concerns which have been brought to the forefront in this debate, such as the dangers attendant to an increasingly federalized approach to administering and providing Health Care services. Not only because it could violate the important principle of subsidiarity but because it presents the danger of placing perceived efficiency over solidarity, thereby “commodifying” compassion and placing the decision to deliver health care to the very young, the seriously ill and the disabled. In short, it will result in the rationing of health care to the poorest of the poor.
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal Wednesday entitled “Obama and the Bureaucratization of Health Care.”
The opinion piece was subtitled “The president's proposals would give unelected officials life-and-death rationing powers”. Oh, I know, some members of the rude and disrespectful pundit class will use this as one more opportunity to disparage her. I wish they would actually deal with her well presented and reasonable concerns about rationing. These concerns are not only valid; they speak directly to the fundamental flaw in the proposed Health Care Reform.
Governor Palin wrote “…is it any wonder that many of the sick and elderly are concerned that the Democrats' proposals will ultimately lead to rationing of their health care by—dare I say it—death panels? Establishment voices dismissed that phrase, but it rang true for many Americans. Working through "normal political channels," they made themselves heard, and as a result Congress will likely reject a wrong-headed proposal to authorize end-of-life counseling in this cost-cutting context. But the fact remains that the Democrats' proposals would still empower unelected bureaucrats to make decisions affecting life or death health-care matters. Such government overreaching is what we've come to expect from this administration.”
She is not the only woman named Sarah whose words fed my serious reservations today. The other woman is named Sarah Capewell. Her tragic story of the loss of her little son made me even more cautious over where some of the alleged “Health Care Reform” plans may be headed. I read an article in the “UK Daily Mail”, entitled 'Doctors told me it was against the rules to save my premature baby'. It was written by Vanessa Allen and Andrew Levy. It detailed the horrific failed plight of Sarah Capewell to save her own child from Government Health care rationing in the U.K.
She lost her son Jayden due to the decision of the NHS, the Health Care System in Great Britain - a system similar to what some have proposed for the United States of America - to let him die, for economic reasons. They had also refused to treat her in her efforts, while she was pregnant, to prolong his time in her womb and slow an early birth. Over economic concerns and alleged efficiency they refused any attempts to save Jaydon. The movement galvanizing around this violation of fundamental human rights and decency is set forth more fully at a web site named “Justice for Jayden.” (http://justice4jayden.webs.com/jaydensstory.htm)
The heart wrenching story is rallying support in the UK to change “the medical guidelines for Health Service hospitals” of the National Health Service which state that “babies should not be given intensive care if they are born at less than 23 weeks.” Sarah’s son Jayden was 21 weeks and five days old. The Doctors refused to even see the little boy in order to evaluate him. So Jayden’s mother and father were forced to hold him in their arms for two hours and watch him die! A spokesperson for the entity which declined the treatment simply said, with bureaucratic sterility, 'Like other acute hospitals, we follow national guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine regarding premature births.'
Sarah Capewell told the writers of the Daily Mail article: “When he was born, he put out his arms and legs and pushed himself over. A midwife said he was breathing and had a strong heartbeat, and described him as a "little fighter". I kept asking for the doctors but the midwife said, "They won't come and help, sweetie. Make the best of the time you have with him".'
The article continued, “She cuddled her child and took precious photos of him, but he died in her arms less than two hours after his birth. Miss Capewell, who has a five-year-old daughter Jodie, went into labor in October last year at 21 weeks and four days after suffering problems during her pregnancy. She said she was told that because she had not reached 22 weeks, she was not allowed injections to try to stop the labor, or a steroid injection to help to strengthen her baby's lungs. Instead, doctors told her to treat the labor as a miscarriage, not a birth, and to expect her baby to be born with serious deformities or even to be still-born.”
After reading this disturbing article, knowing that in the United States we can intervene in utero on babies this age, I remembered the alarming story I heard from the Pro-Life champion, Nurse Jill Stanek about what happened in a hospital in Chicago where babies were born alive after botched abortions. I also remembered the record of a certain Chicago politician who is now our President - and will be addressing us all this evening.
Sarah Capewell said she “she begged one pediatrician, 'You have got to help', only for the man to respond: 'No we don't.' Think about it!
The story continued: “As her contractions continued, a chaplain arrived at her bedside to discuss bereavement and planning a funeral, she claims. She said: 'I was sitting there, reading this leaflet about planning a funeral and thinking, this is my baby, he isn't even born yet, let alone dead.'
“After his death she even had to argue with hospital officials for her right to receive birth and death certificates, which meant she could give her son a proper funeral. She was shocked to discover that another child, born in the U.S. at 21 weeks and six days into her mother's pregnancy, had survived. Amillia Taylor was born in Florida in 2006 and celebrated her second birthday last October. She is the youngest premature baby to survive.
Miss Capewell said: 'I could not believe that one little girl, Amillia Taylor, is perfectly healthy after being born in Florida in 2006 at 21 weeks and six days. 'Thousands of women have experienced this. The doctors say the babies won't survive but how do they know if they are not giving them a chance?'”
We have the chance in the United States to prevent the tragedy of many Jayden Capewells in our own future. Fixing a bad system after the fact will be even more difficult. Could "Health Care Reform" be Deadly for Some? Yes, if we fail to act to protect the primacy and dignity of all human life.