March 24, 2010
Health Care, Abortion, and Moral Incoherence
Calling attention to a recent column by Ross Douthat, John Schwenkler says:
"Claiming the banner of church teaching when it comes to the protection of the unborn while ignoring the demands of that very same church concerning the adequate provision of health care is a gross moral incoherence."
But surely it works the other way round, too, does it not?
Claiming the banner of church teaching when it comes to the provision of health care while ignoring (indeed, openly rejecting) the demands of that very same church concerning the protection of the unborn is a gross moral incoherence.
The Church ("that very same church") teaches that efforts must be made to ensure that all members of the community, including the poor, have reasonable access to basic health care; but it does not prescribe a government run health insurance or health care system or a particular scheme or degree of government regulation of health care providers or insurers. People can reasonably and responsibly "claim the banner of church teaching" while advocating different policies for the structure (or reform) of the health care system to make sure that as many members of the community as possible have reasonable access to basic care (and insurance against medical catastrophes).
With respect to the protection of the unborn, the Church ("that very same church") teaches that each and every member of the human family, irrespective of age, size, location, stage of development, or condition of dependency, possesses inherent and equal dignity and a fundamental right to life. The Church further teaches that it is the duty of government to guarantee that fundamental right and to afford to all, including the unborn, the protection of the laws against homicide and other forms of violence.
So, someone "claiming the banner" of Catholicism who says, (1) "the plight of poor people who do not have access to health care is no concern of mine (except, perhaps, as a matter of private charity) and is not a legitimate subject of public deliberation and policy-making, and (2) "the unborn must be protected by law against being killed by abortion," is being morally incoherent. By the same token, someone who says (1) "we must reform the health care system to ensure that basic care is reasonably accessible to all members of the community," and (2) "the unborn have no right to legal protection against being killed by abortion," is being morally incoherent.
Or so it seems to me.
I don't know whether John Schwenkler would agree. I'm sure that Ross Douthat would.
Posted by Robert George on March 24, 2010 at 10:20 PM | Permalink
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