Bishops seek reform that supports dignity

by Joe Bollig
joe.bollig@theleaven.org

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Who’s against health care reform? Not the catholic church, said Ron Kelsey, archdiocesan consultant for pro-life ministry.

Rather, the church opposes some clearly objectionable things that could be attached to health care reform — abortion mandates, increased abortion funding, and weak or absent conscience protections.

“[Some] will say those who are opposed to abortion mandates are just trying to kill health care [reform],” said Kelsey. “It behooves us to make the point that there is a broadly perceived need [in the church] to improve health care. I don’t think anyone in the church is standing in opposition to that.”

In addition to the aforementioned concerns, there are also concerns held by some in the church and the pro-life community about end-of-life issues in health care reform.

“Some have also expressed concern about end-of-life issues and protecting life at the end of life, and making sure we don’t withhold medical treatments for people at the end of life,” said Kelsey. “We want to avoid assisted suicide and euthanasia.”

There is legitimate cause for the bishops to be concerned, he said. There are three major health care reform bills before the U.S. Congress — two in the senate and one in the house.

Up to now, all pro-life amendments have been shot down. One passed, but was later defeated, thanks to committee chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif.

Kelsey hopes at some point language can be introduced into a health care bill that explicitly prohibits abortion mandates and funding.

“History shows us that if abortion is not explicitly prohibited, [the legislation] will be interpreted subsequently as being allowed,” said Kelsey.

Regardless of the final form of health care reform legislation, the bishops have been consistent in emphasizing what health care reform should be, he said.

“The principles that should be included in any health care legislation are protection and respect for the dignity of every human being from the moment of conception to natural death,” said Kelsey. “That excludes abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research. It includes protection of conscience rights.”

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