Bishop: Health Care Begins With R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Offers 8 Principles For Reform Legislation

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WASHINGTON, D.C, MAY 25, 2009 ( As a U.S. Senate committee is discussing the future of health care in the country, the nation’s bishops are reminding the legislators that respect for life needs to be the foundation for any reform.

Bishop William F. Murphy, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, said this in a statement sent last week to a U.S. Senate committee discussion on “Expanding Health Care Coverage.”

The bishop of Rockville Centre, New York, expressed his hope that the discussion would bring about «true reform to the nation’s health care system,» and offered eight principles that could serve as a framework for reform.

«The Catholic bishops of the United States have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform leading to accessible and affordable health care for all,» he said, recalling the 2007 document «Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.»

«In a nation with the resources we have,» he added, «health care should be such that all our citizens receive the kind of health care that provides for the needs of all in a coherent and consistent way.»
While noting that the dignity of life is foundational to any health care reform, Bishop Murphy recalled that it is also «a critical component of the Catholic Church’s ministry.»

«The Church provides health care, purchases health care and picks up the pieces of a failing health care system,» he explained. «The Catholic community encounters and serves the sick and uninsured in our emergency rooms, shelters and on the doorsteps of our parishes.

«One-out-of-six patients is cared for in Catholic hospitals. We bring strong convictions and everyday experience to the issue of health care.»


Bishop Murphy stated that abortion and other «procedures or technologies that attack or undermine the sanctity and dignity of life» should not be included «as part of a national health care benefit.» He added that «no health care reform plan should compel us or others to pay for or participate in the destruction of human life."

Nonetheless, he continued, «decent health care is not a privilege, but a basic human right and a requirement to protect the life and dignity of every person. All people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford, and this should not depend on their stage of life, where or whether they or their parents work, how much they earn, or where they live or where they come from.»
The prelate then offered eight principles for framing health care reform: respect for life, priority concern for the poor, access for all, comprehensive benefits, pluralism, quality, cost controls and equitable financing.

«Health care is a social good,» Bishop Murphy concluded. «And accessible and affordable health care for all benefits both individuals and the society as a whole.

«The moral measure of any health care reform proposal is whether it offers affordable and accessible health care to all, beginning with those most in need. This can be a matter of life or death, of dignity or deprivation.»

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