Comprehensive Health Care Reform


Bishop John T. Steinbock


My dear people of God,

I have been asked on a number of occasions where does the Church stand on Comprehensive Heath Care reform?  The Church does not involve itself with the specifics of legislation. This is the work of Congress.  There will always be dissention over the specifics of legislation, but, the Church does present principles to guide in the formation of this legislation.

The Bishops of the United States have long been advocates for Comprehensive Health Care Reform.  It is the clear teaching of the Church that everyone has a human right to basic health care, if there is to be true respect for the dignity of the human person.  But, there can be a lot of different ideas as to what “basic health care” means.   The Church has long been one of the main providers of health care here in the United States.  Few people are aware that one out of six patients is cared for in Catholic Hospitals, and most of these hospitals are involved very much with the care of the poor and indigent.

Here are three main principles that the Bishops of the United States say must be included in legislation regarding comprehensive health care: 

The policy must respect human life and the dignity of every individual from the moment of conception to natural death.  The legislation should not extend the promotion of abortion nor promote euthanasia in any form whatsoever.

The legislation must respect the conscience rights of providers of health care, making sure that healthcare professionals and health care entities are not forced to participate in procedures and practices to which they have moral objections.

The legislation should cover as many as possible, especially the poor, the indigent, and legal immigrants in our nation. 

Sad to say, a number of bills in both the Senate and House have contained elements against these principles.  If they were to be part of any legislation, it could mean the end of Catholic Health Care as we now know it, and the end of the service of countless doctors and nurses, already in such great demand.

It is morally irresponsible we do not have Comprehensive Health Care in our country when practically every other industrialized nation cares medically for its poor and indigent.  But it would be a crime if our legislators pass any bill for Comprehensive Health Care that promotes abortion or legislates that medical professionals must act against their conscience.  It is not too late to contact your representatives in Congress.  Blessings to all.