Act now to ensure health care reform respects sanctity of life
Archbishop Charles Joseph Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver, Colorado
Denver Catholic Register
August 12, 2009
For months now, Congress and the White House have talked about the need for
Americans to seek “common ground” on the issues that face us. This is a very
The “common good” and “common ground” are central messages in Catholic social
teaching. This is why the Church always seeks to work cooperatively with people
of other faiths and no faith to secure the basic elements of human dignity for
all our citizens—decent housing, a living wage, justice under the law and
adequate food and health care. It’s why America’s Catholic bishops have pushed
for national health care reform for the past several decades. It’s also why the
Church, in principle, supports current efforts to craft legislation that would
ensure basic health care coverage for all Americans.
But God, or the devil, is always in the details. As Scripture says, “You will
know them by their fruits” (Mt 7:20). The test of White House and congressional
honesty about seeking “common ground” will be the details of the health care
plan being worked on this summer and fall. The whole meaning of “health care”
would be subverted by any plan that involves mandated abortion access or
abortion funding. The reason is obvious. Killing or funding the killing of
unborn children has nothing to do with promoting human health, and including
these things in any “health care” proposal, no matter how shrewdly hidden, would
simply be a form of lying.
In speaking for the American Catholic community, both Bishop William Murphy and
Cardinal Justin Rigali of the USCCB have already voiced strong concerns about a
possible stealth mandate for abortion carried out through national health care.
A so-called “compromise” solution currently offered by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)
would seemingly ban abortion coverage as part of a federally mandated minimum
benefits package. But it would require at least one insurance plan in each
“premium rating area” to cover abortion. In its effect, the Capps approach would
lead to elective abortion being covered under a government-operated public plan
by allowing federal subsidies to flow to private insurance plans that cover
elective abortion. This isn’t a compromise. It’s a shell game.
As the summer draws to a close, it’s very important for Colorado Catholics to
contact their federal lawmakers immediately and demand that abortion and
abortion funding be completely excluded from any national health care plan. A
few key principles should guide the development of any health care reform
legislation, especially in light of the mixed and sobering track record of
national health plans in other countries:
• It should provide access to basic, quality health services for all persons,
from conception to natural death, with a special concern for the poor, elderly
and disabled, and the inclusion of legal immigrants;
• It should protect the conscience rights of individuals and religious
• It should exclude all so-called “services” that involve violence against the
dignity of the human person, such abortion, physician-assisted suicide and their
• It should be economically realistic and sustainable, with costs spread
equitably across all taxpayers.
In the coming days and weeks, Colorado federal lawmakers will be holding
listening sessions with their constituents on this vital health care issue.
Catholics can’t afford to be absent or silent. Please get involved and make your
convictions and concerns known now. We’ll have only ourselves to blame if we
Contact Your Legislators
•For information on listening session dates and contact information for Colorado
lawmakers, visit www.cocatholicconference.org or call 303-894-8808.
•U.S. Capitol switchboard 202-224-3121
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