National Health Care Debate: Pro Life

With the national health care debate in full swing again, and a vote perhaps this weekend, I have been pondering what it means to be pro life.

We hear this term used on the blogs and on the news, but what does it mean? I submit it means different things to different people. To some it means anti abortion and to others it means everything in between. I consider myself pro life and therefore I am concerned with life along the whole spectrum of its existence.

The Orthodox Church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception. The new life is created in the image and likeness of God and is imbued with a soul. This is an absolute teaching of the Church. However, the church also would say that termination of this life is possible under certain circumstances.

St. Basil the Great, in his 8th canon states, “Those who give potions for the destruction of the child conceived in the womb are murderers; as are they who take the poisons which kill the child.” Sounds pretty absolute to me. Well nothing is very cut a dried and abortion is a very complex issue.

According to Fr. Stanley Haraks in his book, “Contemporary Moral Issues Facing the Orthodox Christian,” he allows for certain exceptions. Fr. Harakas is the for most writer on the topic of ethics and morality in the Orthodox Church, and although we do not speak with a single voice, Fr. Harakas comes close.

“When the life of the mother is in jeopardy due to her pregnancy, then as exception to the prohibition on abortion may be allowed.”

“In case of rape or incest, due to the unnatural and often violent character of these crimes, as well as the danger of disease, it is urged that medical procedures take place to flush out the sperm before fertilization or implantation can occur.”

The key here is that this must take place within 3 days. Current medical science says it takes three days after impregnation for fertilization and implantation to occur. Drugs and medical procedures can be used prior to this to prevent fertilization and implantation. But only in the case cited above. No other exception can be used.

But, the pro life message is more, and has to be more than just about anti abortion. Yes this is a big one because if life is not born then the rest will not matter. But the Orthodox Church teaches that we must respect life from conception to its natural end.

I would say that means we need to be concerned about topics like health care, education, poverty, homelessness, war, crime, prisons, etc. anything that would affect life along the spectrum.

So the question is, can we overlook one moral situation for another? Can we support the present health care legislation with it’s coverage for abortion to be able to provide health care? Forget the political question and the economic question we can address those another time.

Access to health care is important to sustain life. I will say however, that we do not have a fundamental right to health care, but this nation is one of the richest on earth and we should be able to provide health care to its citizens at reasonable cost.

It is my understanding that the abortion provision is not abortion on demand but will provide coverage for emergency abortions only and the bill will open the health care door to more than 30 million uninsured Americans. That is hard to overlook.

Is it a perfect bill, no bill is perfect. You get the best bill you can in place and then work on it after. This bill invests in preventive care, will take away the ability of an insurance company to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions and will invest in community health centers that will aid the most vulnerable in our society, poor women and children.

I know it is all politics. The Republicans do not want this bill to pass so they can run on the issue in the fall, and the Democrats want it to pass for the same reason. The time has come for us to act and in this case I would have to say, as bad as this will sound, the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few. It is morally reprehensible that people in this country, the greatest country on the face of the earth, do not have access to proper health care.

Yes I do believe that we can over look one moral issue for another, and this is it. Jesus teaches that we must love our neighbor as our self. That means we need to be concerned for the poor and vulnerable in our society.

If the churches do their job, and teach their people about abortion then the funding provision will not matter. We cannot shirk our responsibility on this issue. I know I will not.

1 Comment

  1. If the pro lifers are true pro lifers then before this bill passes the language against abortion needs to be put in.They can not complain down the road about it if they are selling out now.
    Once a bill like this gets passed,every year it gets harder and harder to change the problems.
    There is no reason to push this bill through until every issue is discussed and settled.
    Pass the bill in pieces if need be.
    This is to important to get it wrong.Selling out ones beliefs is always wrong….linda

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