Religious Dogma and the Health Care Debate

March 18, 2010

Readers of my blog are aware that I'm occasionally critical of religious beliefs.

OK, more than occasionally.

Critical examination of beliefs, religious or nonreligious, is a worthwhile endeavor in and of itself. We should question our fundamental beliefs and try to ensure they're justifiable based on reason and the available evidence.

In fostering a secular society, however, we should not limit ourselves to supporting critical reasoning. As stated in CFI's mission statement, we also need to work to end the influence that religion has on public policy. The heavy and distorting hand of religious influence on public policy can be felt in many areas, but the current debate over health care legislation provides us with a very poignant and disturbing example.

As everyone knows, debate on the Obama administration's health care plan is coming to an end and an up-or-down vote will be taken soon. The vote will be very close. The outcome may well depend on a small group of Democrats, led by Bart Stupak of Michigan, who have stated that they will vote against the proposed legislation because they are concerned that the bill may allow federal funds to be used to finance abortions. They are supported in their opposition to the bill by the nation's Catholic bishops.

First, by way of background, you should be aware that current law prohibits federal dollars from being used to fund abortions. The health care bill will not change that.
Nonetheless, because the health care bill will fund Community Health Centers (CHC) and will provide subsidies to some individuals to help them purchase private insurance, Stupak and his friends claims that federal funds might be used to pay for abortions. They make this claim despite the fact that no CHC currently provides abortions. Furthermore, they make this claim despite the fact that the current language in the bill would require women who receive coverage under a subsidized plan to write a separate check for that portion of the premium that provides abortion services. Effectively, Stupak and his friends are worrying about an entirely hypothetical situation that has little, if anything, to do with the proposed legislation.

Stupak's position is so extreme that the other day a group of nuns and Catholic hospital administrators threw their support behind the current health care bill, rejecting the reasoning of Stupak and his allies.

What is truly amazing about this situation is that a handful of Congressional representatives, motivated entirely by their religious beliefs, can hold hostage a bill that is of monumental significance to millions of Americans. Obviously, there's a division of opinion among Americans about the merits of the proposed health care bill. Some maintain the bill is essential to remedy inequities in our health care system and that it is cost-effective. Others maintain it is a budget-buster and improperly requires Americans to obtain insurance coverage. But whatever one's views on the bill, the debate on the bill and the final vote on the bill should be based on the merits of the legislation -- not fears and suspicions fueled by religious dogma.

It is a tragedy that the status of American health care in the 21st century may depend on how some powerful clergy and their religiously rigid supporters interpret church doctrine.

Our secular society is still very much a work in progress.


#1 J. (Guest) on Thursday March 18, 2010 at 1:15pm

You can’t blame the bishops. They are devoted to the sovereignty of their god and their church before the well being of the people.

#2 CybrgnX (Guest) on Thursday March 18, 2010 at 7:14pm

As J says the bishops are not the problem, they are just con-men with BS dripping past their lips.
The real problem are the brainwashed non-thinking masses that swallow after the job is done. As long as the frighten masses of sheep continue to be lead by the rings in their noses, the bishops can continue to influence the gov’mint and screw the rest of us.
Yes I have no patience with these people that insist on cramming their stone-age BS on everyone else.

#3 gray1 on Thursday March 18, 2010 at 7:20pm

The attribution of dogmatic religious beliefs as the primary reason to oppose abortion I consider specious at best.  How about those of us who just know “in their gut” that such is wrong in almost every case. 

By way of supposition, let’s take a case of “outside observers” who actually might be concerned with the physical and mental well being of some apparently sentient but somewhat ignorant savages who are observed callously destroying their own very rapidly developing mammalian children in situ and sometimes even utilizing the products derived therefrom for medicinal research and/or stock material and same might quickly be deemed as being simply cannibalistic animals unworthy of very much further consideration. 

But it’s no big deal with me…

#4 Marian Hennings (Guest) on Friday March 19, 2010 at 2:41pm

The imposition by the government of one group’s religious beliefs on all persons regardless of their membership in that group is fundamentally unAmerican.

#5 CybrgnX (Guest) on Friday March 19, 2010 at 4:49pm

OK gray1 - lets look at it as from an outsider.
The thing sucking the nutrients out of her body is biologically a PARASITE!!!  Although a VERY special type.  And until it is viable on its own (about 12yrs) it continues as one.  That’s why the same jews that started this silly religion did not recognize a male child until ~12 when it was bar-mit-fahed(?).
And if ‘You know in your gut’ then DON’T DO IT!!!!
Just keep your gut to yourself.
My wife or Daughter have never gotten an abortion and love their kids, but if the pregnancy was defective for any reason I would push for it in a second.  Got lots of sperm and eggs to try again.
And I have NEVER met a woman who says ‘I can just get an abortion’.  There never was anything casual about abortions.

#6 Ronald A. Lindsay on Saturday March 20, 2010 at 8:00am

To Marian: a great succinct observation. Could not have said it better myself.

#7 gray1 on Saturday March 20, 2010 at 11:03am

A woman’s right to choose abortion if she so desires is already protected by the law as established by the highest court in the land. I personally fall into the pro-choice camp for reasons of my own, but that is not what is at issue here.  The issue is whether or not federal tax dollars should be spent on cases that amount to an elective surgery. 

Since the whole framework of this current legislation centers around the issue of federal control of health insurance as opposed to addressing any actual health care at least as of yet, the question is whether we are now proposing to cover elective abortions which are not a matter of anyone being at certain health risk because of a pregnancy.  Does your current health insurance provider pay for such?  I suspect not in most cases.

Of course there will be those among the elites who favor such complete coverage for the poor, ignorant and disadvantaged, sadly I suspect as much for their often stated purpose of the need to start controlling population growth as opposed to any actual compassion.  The Chinese have practiced this for years so why not ask their opinion about how things have worked out for them individually and not just the Communist Party members who like our own Congress and President probably have whole separate health care and retirement plans from the ones the citizen/subjects are being stuck with.

Ironic it is that the U.S. government which has long subsidized the explosive population growth of disadvantaged minority groups now wishes to help them curtail same.  Does that come up under the banner of “Hope”, “Change” or both?  Of course with the borders now wide open we no longer need to breed new citizen/subjects, we can just import any necessary amount just like we now import just about everything else.

But I must have digressed somewhere, or did I?

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