Thursday, August 13, 2009

How do we really approach health care reform?

Beyond tax cuts, more important than foreign policy, a core foundation for my conservative philosophy is the protection of innocent and vulnerable human life.

I have always been pro-life. I have carried the pro-life message with me wherever I could. I used it as a topic for persuasive argument assignments in high school. I taught about it at our church youth group. In college I picketed Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, counseled girls and young women before and after having abortions, and volunteered my time to pro-life causes and political candidates. While the pro-life cause wasn’t my only issue, it was certainly a defining issue – if the candidate wasn’t pro-life first, then we weren’t working from the same philosophical framework. Being pro-life didn’t guarantee that a candidate would get my vote. But, not being pro-life certainly guaranteed that he/she wouldn’t get it.

I tell you this only to provide background. I recently gave birth to my fourth child 2 months before her due date. As I looked at her tiny face, I couldn’t help but think of this glaring contradiction in our society: we seem to be equally willing to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of staff resources to keep our youngest babies alive on the one hand, yet on the other hand we pervert the talent and skills of medical staff supposedly committed to healing to killing off these same babies when it suits the whim of the mother (or others who coerce her). What kind of philosophical schizophrenia allows us to do this?

I would suggest that we, as a nation, are simply too psychologically cowardly to face the truth of what we are doing and take responsibility for changing it.

There is no reconciling this dichotomy of national consciousness. Until we, as a nation, commit to a consistent, cohesive set of values regarding our care and concern for human life in all its stages, we will not be able to create a health care system that genuinely works. We cannot commit to both saving people and actively killing them, selecting who will live and who will die according to a false code of ethics built on the idea of ‘choice’ – because choice for one necessarily eliminates the choice for another. There is only one equation that works here: all human life is equally deserving of protection and healing. In order to build a health care system that works for everyone, we must first work from the premise that everyone counts equally. Every person in our society has innate value; it is up to us to develop a health care system dedicated to honoring that value. Here’s a hint: a health care system that works for everyone won’t involve a government funded plan.