A couple of recent news items from South America have reminded me once again why the United States government — or any government, for that matter — must never be entrusted with the health care of its population. Political arrangements or authoritarian actions are always just the stroke of a pen away from oppression of religious liberty.
It is the rare country these days that can boast of a politician who actually stands up for truth, life and the ethics of honest government. When I first read of the actions of the president of the Constitutional Court of Peru, I was in total disbelief and had to immediately check sources to make sure that the news I had read was accurate. The president, Juan Vergara, has asked Peru’s minister of health, Oscar Ugarte, to prohibit the sale of the morning-after pill in pharmacies, due to the fact that the pill can cause an abortion.
This announcement came almost three years to the day after Chile’s feminist president, Michelle Bachelet , fought to liberalize the nation’s policies regarding the availability of contraception by making this very pill, the morning-after pill, available free at state-run hospitals.
The most recent news report on the court’s decision explains,
The court’s ruling bans the free distribution of the morning-after pill in public health care facilities; however the drug can still be sold in pharmacies as long as consumers are provided with information on the drug’s potential abortifacient nature.
According to Carlos Polo, director of the Office for Latin America of the Population Research Institute, the court “has acted correctly because it put things into proper perspective. The promoters and sellers of the pill needed to show that the anti-implantation effect did not exist and they could not do so.”
Only time will tell whether or not the proponents of abortion will rise up and challenge the ruling by appealing to international courts, but the fact is that there is at least one judge in Peru whose confidence in scientific fact supersedes his desire for political popularity. A rarity indeed, as was recently confirmed by events in Colombia, where quite a different scenario is playing out.
Colombia’s Constitutional Court recently ruled against freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and freedom from oppressive, anti-life policies. In 2006, the Court ruled that there were certain circumstances in which an abortion could be performed. Thus, for the first time in Colombia ’s history, abortion became available “when a pregnancy threatens a woman’s life or health, in cases of rape, incest and in cases where the fetus has malformations incompatible with life outside the womb.”
In plain English, that would mean that surgical abortion is available in all cases. The word “health” is so elastic that it can apply in nearly any situation. All one need do is consult the U.S. Supreme Court’s Doe. v. Bolton ruling to discern just how meaningless the word “health” truly is these days.
As if that 2006 ruling were not bad enough, a few days ago that Colombian court extended its reach into the practice of medicine by ruling that all hospitals and/or health centers whether public or private, secular or religious, must provide training for staff to perform abortions. In essence, this decision forces Catholic hospitals to teach and practice murder. Thank God for Auxiliary Bishop Juan Cordoba Villota , who declared in response to this egregious ruling, “We Catholic educators are not going to teach this; we’re going to teach respect for life. We emphatically reject this pronouncement. We will not disobey any orders, but… they cannot obligate us to do this."
The decision is now under examination because a formal request has been made that this recent court ruling be overturned . The decision to challenge this ruling has not pleased pro-abortion forces . In fact, one commentator wrote,
[I] understand that a majority of Colombians may well be inflexible anti-abortionists, who believe that a woman never has a right to end her pregnancy even under the most extreme of circumstances. After all, Colombia still is a parochial, largely conservative society: the first legal abortion in Colombia, performed on an 11 year-old who had been raped by her stepfather, did not fail to outrage many people. It is very likely that if Colombians were to decide this issue by referendum, the pro-choice side would lose miserably.
It is my opinion that these two events, which occurred in fundamentally Catholic countries with strong religious leadership from the bishops, should be of particular interest to American bishops right now. For contrary to what is happening in Peru and Colombia, the United States is not an overwhelmingly Catholic nation but one composed of people of many faiths. Further, as has been reported in survey after survey, a majority of American Catholics don’t object to abortion or contraception, even though the Church teaches that abortion is an act of murder and contraception is intrinsically evil.
Based on this fact alone, the Catholic bishops should be up in arms, sounding the alarm, running up the flag and telling the government, through the united activation of faithful American Catholics in America, that the Church will not tolerate any usurpation of its freedom to reject all anti-life aspects of health care reform in any form, under any guise, for any reason.
It is obvious that the debacle known as national health care reform is moving closer to becoming a reality. Many of us who have studied the various bills understand that what these proposals really represent is an imposed authoritarian government-controlled program that could have ominous overtones for Catholic health care facilities in the United States.
There could come a time in the not-too-distant future when the federal government will do what the court is attempting to do in Colombia, by imposing its anti-life will on the Church and her facilities. What then?
How effective will the current “abortion neutrality ” statement from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops be when the U.S. government is in charge of health care?
A government that wishes to impose its will on one and all is a government that should not be interfering with the ethical practice of medicine. And yet by acquiescing to the idea of nationalized health care and stipulating only that such a program be “abortion neutral,” the USCCB is playing right into the hands of those in charge of alleged health care reform.
The U.S. government has a track record to prove the veracity of my statements. The history of our government’s involvement in abortion alone, not to mention contraception, human embryonic stem cell research and other practices that violate the dignity of the human person, provides ample documentation on this question.
If there is suspicion that the above statement is an overreaction to the current proposal that has just come from the House of Representatives, examine the facts as set forth in Michael Hichborn’s study of the bill .
Contrast the Hichborn study with the USCCB action alert, which does not address euthanasia, health care rationing, contraception, human embryonic stem cell research or sterilization. There is no question that these anti-life activities, in addition to sex education, special privileges for groups such as Planned Parenthood and more that were included in the House version, were included in the Senate version and so far have not gone anywhere. Even Senator Chuck Grassley , one of the Senate leaders in health care reform negotiations at the time, is concerned:
"I don’t have any problem with things like living wills, but they ought to be done within the family," he said. "We should not have a government program that determines you’re going to pull the plug on grandma."
While we are eternally grateful to the bishops for sounding an alarm, the current situation deserves stronger action on a much broader scale. We would hope that USCCB bureaucrats would be scouring these proposals for the very same dreadful indications of promoting the culture of death that we have found and shared.
Hichborn assured America,
American Life League will continue shining the spotlight on the culture of death’s attempt to promote its agenda and expand its reach through Obama-style "health care reform." As changes are made and provisions are introduced or removed from current federal legislation, you can count on American Life League to keep you updated on these developments.
We call on the USCCB to do likewise. There is too much at stake; the lives of far too many of our fellow human beings are at risk.
We are not living in a nation with a government or a judicial system that respects the natural law. We are not living in a Catholic country that puts Christ and His truth first.
On the contrary, we are living in a nation wherein a government has literally presided over the murders of millions of innocents as it denies that a human being exists prior to birth. Such a governing authority can never be entrusted with the health care of the people of this nation, regardless of their religious persuasion, immigration status, income or any other qualifier one might choose to list.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” I would suggest to the Catholic bishops, as individual shepherds and as a united force for good, that the price of preserving the integrity of all that the Church teaches regarding respect for the dignity of the human person is their absolute opposition to government-controlled health care reform.