Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States of America voted to uphold the Affordable Care Act. The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops has not issued a press release yet. But, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has. So, what have they said about yesterday’s decision?
… For nearly a century, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been and continue to be consistent advocates for comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and the most vulnerable.Although the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) did not participate in these cases and took no position on the specific questions presented to the Court, USCCB’s position on health care reform generally and on ACA particularly is a matter of public record.The bishops ultimately opposed final passage of ACA for several reasons.
First, ACA allows use of federal funds to pay for elective abortions and for plans that cover such abortions, contradicting longstanding federal policy. …
Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context. …
Third, ACA fails to treat immigrant workers and their families fairly. ACA leaves them worse off by not allowing them to purchase health coverage in the new exchanges created under the law, even if they use their own money. …
Following enactment of ACA, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has not joined in efforts to repeal the law in its entirety, and we do not do so today.The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct the fundamental flaws described above.We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws.
Read the quotation above carefully. Particularly, read the first and last paragraphs. Note that the bishops have made it clear that they are in favor of “comprehensive health care reform to ensure access to life-affirming health care for all, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.” Access to health care for all is called life-affirming and the bishops “have made it clear that they are in favor.” In other words, while the bishops do not speak in favor of a particular plan, yet they make it clear that it is a pro-life stance (“life-affirming”) that all, particularly “the poorest and most vulnerable” must have access to health care. Inevitably, the wording of the paragraph makes it clear that the system, as it has stood for many decades, has not been a life-affirming system, but rather has been a system in need of “comprehensive … reform.” In other words, the systems, as it has stood for many decades, has not been a pro-life system.
Second, emphasizing that the issue is not the plan, but some of the provisions in it, the bishops say in the last paragraph that they have, “not joined in efforts to repeal the law in its entirety, and we do not do so today.” The problem is in some of the provisions, not in the idea of universal health care. The bishops continue to make that clear when they continue on by saying, “The decision of the Supreme court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all …”. Ensuring decent health care for all is a Roman Catholic (and an Orthodox) moral imperative, and one that has been reaffirmed by the bishops for decade after decade.
What the bishops did insist on was that the clauses allowing the federal government to pay for “elective abortions” must be taken away. Second, there is an essential conscience clause missing in the act that is most necessary. It would not surprise me that if the act is not changed that the bishops would begin a second lawsuit, one not aimed at overturning the act, but rather in forcing a conscience exception into the law. I would hope that they do so and would hope that the Orthodox bishops would join in such a lawsuit.
And, most interesting, going against the Tea Party in a very clear fashion, the bishops make it clear that it is immoral to deny anyone, even illegal aliens from having access to health care. Here is where a pro-life stance takes precedence. You cannot be pro-life and yet try to prevent anyone from having full access to health care. Those who oppose immigrant access to health care are not pro-life, they are simply sinners of the worst sort. Thank you, Roman Catholic bishops.
I consider this a fine statement by the Roman Catholic bishops.