Health Care


Bishop William Patrick Callahan


Published on the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Blog

I recently received an e-mail from a friend who expressed some anxiety regarding the current debate concerning health care in the United States and the Catholic Bishops’ disagreement with the proposed legislation on the grounds  it included abortion funding.  His conclusion was that the Bishops, in union with Papal teaching, have always been in favor of universal health care that benefits the poor and the marginalized.  He is correct. The Bishops have been the champions of this issue for many years.

My friend was puzzled by the gravity of what could be accomplished, now that the government seems to be saying the same thing; why would the Church hinder it just because the plan includes funding abortion?

This, I believe is an opinion held by many good Catholics who somehow think that the Bishops cannot win on this and that the government is going to go ahead and enact the legislation around us.

This thinking is flawed based on several moral principles. I will try to explain as simply and directly as I can.

First, all life comes from God. Therefore, the gift of life must be protected and defended at all costs. Abortion is murder. It is the deliberate killing of another human being—even more horrible, because the unborn has no ability to defend him/herself, and one who has no other protection under the law other than the struggle in which we are now engaged will provide. It is the first and basic teaching of the Church that life trumps everything.

With that in mind, and because we maintain it as the “prime directive,” we seek the care and protection of all those who have been born—from conception to natural death. The Church, therefore provides, through over 600 hospitals nationwide (and countless more worldwide) for the care of the poor and the indigent. The emergency rooms and clinics of Catholic hospitals have always kept their doors open for those who were unable to pay or had no insurance. The strain of such care, however, is bringing many Catholic health care facilities to the brink of financial disaster.