By Loxi Hopkins
Msgr. Marvin Mottet and I spent a week in Washington, D.C., representing the Diocese of Davenport at the annual Catholic Social Ministry Gathering.
Eighteen Catholic organizations that co-sponsored the event met to further the legislative agenda of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). The bishops have set four priorities for this Congressional session: health care reform, global climate change, foreign assistance reform and freedom to travel to Cuba. Health care reform is the most likely to see action this year.
As stated by the bishops, health care is not just another issue for the church. It is a fundamental issue of human life and dignity. Health care ministry is a way the church continues Jesus’ mission of healing and caring for the “least of these.” The Catholic community sees and serves the sick and uninsured in our emergency rooms, shelters and on the doorsteps of our parishes.
In total, 46,000,000 people are without health insurance and the uninsured numbers are growing by 14,000 people per day. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has made health care reform one of its top priorities this year. Health care reform must be accessible and affordable to all. Prevention, not just treatment, should be a significant part of any plan.
Our faith requires us to join with others in public debate and to share Catholic teaching and experience in the search for effective health care reform. The church wants — and ought to be — at the table in the formation of health care planning.
The Catholic community not only has a moral tradition, but extensive experience in health care as providers. The Catholic health care system is the largest nonprofit health care system in the country, with one of every six people accessing health care from a Catholic institution.
We also need to stay firm in our insistence that the Hyde amendment remains in any plan. The amendment, first passed by the U.S. Congress in 1976, is a provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortions.
Abortion is not health care! The will of the public, regardless of its stand on abortion, is not to use taxpayers’ dollars to pay for abortions.
Expanding access to health care cannot come at the expense of the unborn. Health care must be for everyone from conception to natural death.
(Hopkins is a volunteer in the Davenport Diocese’s social action office.)