From the Bishops Moral Issues and the Health Care Debate

Our country is currently engaged in a national debate regarding the manner in which the people in this country will have access to health care. This is a very complicated issue. The ongoing debate has shown the complexity of health care policies and the fact that people of good will can and will have varying opinions as all attempt to foster the best possible health care policies for the good of our country.


While these public policy issues are debated, it is essential that the moral issues are clearly stated so that the health care policies adopted by our political leaders will be for the common good. Among these issues are the following:


Health care needs to be available for all. The rapid and remarkable development of health care has resulted in our country enjoying an unprecedented high standard of care. This care must be available for all and not for only a segment of society. The Lord has taught us that on the last day, when we stand before God, one of the questions God will ask us is whether, "When I was sick did you comfort me?" (Matthew 25:36) Our health care must be as broadly available as possible and not be limited only to those able to afford it.


Health care policies must respect human life, especially the elderly and the pre-born. Any health policy which provides taxpayer dollars for killing babies through abortion, and any health care policy that seeks to lower medical costs by withholding or limiting care for the elderly, is simply not worthy of the United States or any civilized society.


Freedom of conscience, both for individuals and institutions, must be respected. No health care policy is moral which compels doctors and health care workers to perform procedures which violate their conscience. For example, no medical student, nurse, or physician can be forced, or penalized for a refusal, to participate in an abortion. The law must protect the right of conscience for health workers. Similarly, institutions must be protected from any coercion to perform medical procedures which violates the moral standards of the institution. For example, Catholic hospitals and nursing homes cannot be forced to perform abortions or end the lives of the elderly through euthanasia.


In these next few weeks the members of Congress will proceed with this national health care debate. Let us pray that the wisdom of God will guide them in this most difficult matter.


At the same time, please speak out in a respectful, clear, and strong fashion and let your voice be heard. Our political leaders need to know that the moral issues cannot be overlooked or violated in this most important moment in our national history. Members of Congress may be contacted at and or by calling the Capitol switch-board at 202-224-3121.


Printed with permission from the Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama.

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