The Stones We Throw
January 22, 2009, 12:52 pm
Filed under: Current Events | Tags: , ,

From an official standpoint, I am pro-life. I would never have an abortion, and abortion is murder.

However.

I also realize that abortion is not going anywhere anytime soon. It is not my place to judge someone who has an abortion, just as it is not my place to judge a liar, or a murderer, or a thief. That right belongs to God alone. I take to heart the admonition, “Let ye who has not sinned cast the first stone.” Would I prefer that abortion be illegal, like murder and perjury and theft? Yes, but I have accepted that that’s not likely. I will merely do my best to avoid having an abortion myself, and to sway those who ask away from abortion.

Those things said, I am experiencing anxiety over the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) that Obama wants to sign into law. The vast majority of things are just reversals on the conservative steps towards limiting abortion that have occurred over the past 25 years in the states, such as parental notification.

The part that has me jittery involves Roman Catholic hospitals. Specifically, all hospitals that receive federal funds (read: Medicare) would be required to perform abortions. Since all hospitals take Medicare, Catholic facilities would be required, by law, to perform abortions.

This disturbs me on two levels. First, I am opposed to the state telling a religious organization what it can, cannot and MUST do. The common interpretation of the ‘separation of church and state’ clause is that it protects the state from encroachment by the church, but the opposite is just as true: it protects the church from encroachment by the state. The reason I am OK with gay marriage is because chances are, no given person, minister or church will be required to perform gay marriages. The same ought to be true for abortion: no given person, doctor, or facility ought to be required to perform abortions. This law oversteps the line.

Second, this is going to cause the closing of hundreds of charity hospitals across the country. Most major areas have at least one Catholic hospital: Pittsburgh’s is Mercy Hospital, now UPMC Mercy. When that deal was made, UPMC promised the church that they would uphold the Catholic tradition of the facility, and not perform abortions there. Reading has St. Joe’s. In more rural areas, sometimes the only hospital is the Catholic hospital.

These places do not require you to pay if you are unable to. What that means is that poor people do not go underserved medically, nor are they saddled with insurmountable debt, if they are able to get to a Catholic hospital. Is Mercy hospital the best hospital in the city? Hell, no. But the poor are treated there for free.

The whims of the president do not sway the Catholic Church. If FOCA becomes law, these Catholic charity hospitals will close in response. They will not provide abortions on any terms. They will be purchased by other hospitals, and turned into secular facilities that provide abortions, but do not provide free healthcare. The poor will suddenly have no place to turn. Even if they didn’t close, in order to remain true to the Catholic faith, they would have to cease accepting federal dollars, effectively disenfranchising the poor who have Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP, etc. Either path would impact poor people.

This, of course, sets the stage for nationalized healthcare. I expect that this is Obama’s plan: close charity hospitals to force Congress’ hand in legislating nationalized healthcare, all while expanding abortion. Two birds with one very damning stone.

Now, I realize that the vast majority of abortion supporters have an immediate reflex to support any legislation expanding abortion and national healthcare. I respect that, and hope you respect my immediate reflex to stop anything encroaching on free-market economics. However, pause for a moment to think carefully about how comfortable you are with forcing the hand of a church, and punishing the poor as a result. By what means are you willing to get what you want? The precedents you set can come back to haunt you.

These are slippery slopes we tread.

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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Indeed. I’m an Obama supporter, but not for his issues on abortion. I’m pro-life as well, and I’m appalled that hospitals would be forced to kill babies. This is not the change I was voting for!

Comment by Kacie

Healthcare is about the patients, not the doctors or the buildings they work in.

Comment by Math Major




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