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Posted by on Mar 10, 2009 in Health, Religion, Society | 62 comments

Separation of Church and Health. A Modest Proposal.

EvilPriest.jpgIntroductory question: What do foreign, oil producing nations, American farmers and trash collectors have in common with the Catholic Church? Hopefully we will be able to address that question here today. To begin with, we’ll look at this article from the St. Louis Dispatch which addresses concerns that many Catholic run hospitals are threatening to shut down if the Obama administration were to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) into law. In response, Ed Morrissey ponders the following situation.

We have asked this question before, on several occasions during the campaign, and now the media has begun to ask it as well. With the Catholic Church providing over 600 hospitals nationwide, servicing mostly needy areas, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders aloud today whether the Freedom of Choice Act pushed now by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) would tear an irreparable hole in the nation’s safety net:

Ed refers, in part, to this passage from the Dispatch article:

A proposed bill promising major changes in the U.S. abortion landscape has Roman Catholic bishops threatening to close Catholic hospitals if the Democratic Congress and White House make it law.

Obviously the opponents of FOCA see this as a threat to health care services in America and a reason to not have such legislation in place. What this argument misses is the fundamental hypocrisy which leaps into many such conversations in the political arena as soon as the dreaded abortion question is brought into the mix. This, in turn, brings us back to the introductory question at the opening of this column.

One of the fundamental dangers – widely and correctly considered to be a threat to our national security – of allowing foreign, potentially hostile nations to control our supply of oil, is the concern that they could cut it off at any time for any reason to our detriment. They might do it for religious or political reasons, or perhaps as part of a larger war effort. This is why it’s important to boost our own supplies. If we are to take the Catholic Church at their word, then FOCA and the larger abortion question have nothing to do with this question. The true issue is that they are apparently willing to cut off all emergency, required medical support to their individual communities because they do not agree with restrictions and legislation passed by the lawfully elected government of the United States.

We’re not talking about a car dealership closing down here. Were that the case, drivers could travel to purchase cars from more distant towns until the demands of the open market drove the opening of a new dealership. Suddenly cutting off local health care is on par with suddenly putting an embargo on a nation’s oil supply. The results are catastrophic. If the representatives of the Catholic Church who control the flow of vital health care services are willing to even suggest that they would remove all health care because of rules and laws regarding abortion and family planning, they are, in effect, threatening an even worse embargo and demonstrating that they really don’t care about the welfare of the citizens in their communities.

What if the nation’s farmers banded together and declared that all food production would suddenly cease unless the government abandoned NAFTA? Can we legally force them to produce food even if people are starving the next week? Would they receive so much sympathy for their concerns from any political party? Perhaps the nation’s trash collectors can shut down all services until some odious piece of legislation is repealed. Should blackmail like that be allowed to affect the legislative process?

Can hospitals be forced to provide their services? As with foreign oil barons, farmers and trash collectors, the answer would seem to be no. And to be perfectly clear, we should most certainly NOT seek to force them to provide any services, including abortions or birth control, contraception and related services. But in the same line of thought, the solution is not to punish them, but to replace them. General and emergency health services (above and beyond abortion or family planning) are, if anything, even more important than a steady supply of fuel, food or waste disposal. America should free itself from the potentially hostile nature of the Catholic church and its willingness to blackmail the American legislative process, regardless of the cost in health and lives. We are already talking about sinking frightening amounts of taxpayer money into health care for everyone. Rather than revamping insurance schemes, perhaps a better use for these funds would be the construction and staffing of new, secular hospitals across the nation in areas where patients have little or no option beyond facilities controlled by the Catholic Church’s political agenda.

Has this suggestion taken on the tones of A Modest Proposal? Yes, and intentionally so. But it is also intended as a far more serious topic of discussion. If the Catholic Church feels that its moral superiority outweighs the secular, lawfully elected government of the United States to the degree that they can unilaterally shut down hundreds of hospitals across the nation, then it is drunk with power. America is still a nation with a tradition of separation of church and state as well as the ability of the majority’s elected representatives to pass the laws of the land. Leaving so much of our critical health care in the hands of those who would blackmail us with their religious dogma is equally as foolish and dangerous as remaining dependent on the Middle East and Venezuela for our nation’s energy supply.

UPDATE: My communist propaganda was originally to appear in Pravda, but they’ve run out of cash to pay freelance writers. Thanks for asking, though. 🙂