Friday, August 21, 2009

Health Care: Obligated By Natural Law?

Well, Catholic Jedi, natural law comes into the health care debate, as it should. Bishop R. Walter Nickless of the Diocese of Sioux City, has written a terrific column on the Catholic requirements for any health care legislation. He writes:

"...the Catholic Church does not teach that “health care” as such, without distinction, is a natural right. The “natural right” of health care is the divine bounty of food, water, and air without which all of us quickly die. This bounty comes from God directly. None of us own it, and none of us can morally withhold it from others. The remainder of health care is a political, not a natural, right, because it comes from our human efforts, creativity, and compassion. As a political right, health care should be apportioned according to need, not ability to pay or to benefit from the care. We reject the rationing of care. Those who are sickest should get the most care, regardless of age, status, or wealth. But how to do this is not self-evident. The decisions that we must collectively make about how to administer health care therefore fall under 'prudential judgment.'

He clearly states that any health care plan that mandates coverage for abortion, euthanasia or embryonic stem cell therapies will not be accepted by the Church. Nor will any legislation that does not provide protection for the exercise of conscience.

Would that the politicians heed this admonishment. In accordance with natural law, God is the creator and giver of all life. He is the sole decision maker as to the end of life. In providing care to our brethren we must remember that the value of a life does not depend on material factors such as age, wealth, status or ability to work. The paraplegic in the wheelchair is as worthy of medical treatment as is the Nobel prize laureate.


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