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Louisiania bishops join debate on health care with warning on protecting unborn

.- Health care is a basic right and its proposed reform must provide access for all while also excluding abortion funding and protecting the consciences of health care providers, a Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops statement says.

In its Oct. 26 statement, the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops (LCCB) noted that Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris taught of “universal and inviolable” rights that include the right to medical care and to be looked after in times of ill health. There is also an “apostolic duty” to heal the sick while proclaiming the Gospel, they said.

“For centuries, Catholic hospitals have served and ministered to the sick and the dying. Other Catholic institutions have welcomed and served the elderly, handicapped, expectant mothers, newborns, and others with physical, emotional or spiritual needs,” the Louisiana bishops wrote. “This is an important expression of our respect for the innate dignity that lies within every human being, regardless of race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or social class.”

This respect for life, the LCCB said, motivates Catholics to ask Congress to support reforms that exclude public health care funds for abortion, prohibit any form of euthanasia, protect conscience rights for health care professionals and institutions, and respect the right of a physician and a patient to decide on healing treatment without interference.

The bishops appealed for a plan that provides “basic affordable medical care for all,” including legal immigrants, while protecting the role of personal and private entities in health care.

The LCCB also invited Catholics to pray that God will enlighten all legislators so that they know what is good for society and those in need.

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