US Catholic Faith in Real Life

One more step toward health care for all: How can that be anti-life?

By Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

UPDATE: The Supreme Court's opinion on ACA.

While the Supreme Court ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act won't resolve the contraception issue--much less the partisan bickering around it--we can at least be glad that millions of people who didn't have health care will at least have a chance for it now.

I still think a single-payer system is the most efficient and equitable way to pay for health care, but this is a step forward to a more humane society.

One caveat: The opinion makes the expansion of Medicaid basically optional, so once again the poorest people get the shortest end of the stick. Now it is up to states to decide whether they want to participate. That's too bad--but at least that is a fight that people who care about the poor can take to their state legislatures.

What I don't get is the drama from the right wing of the pro-life movement, groups such as the American Life League and Americans United for Life who insist the ACA is "anti-life." 

From the AUL press release: "“Today’s Supreme Court decision ratified a landmark anti-life law, which unfairly forces Americans to pay for abortions." Setting aside the truth of that staement (or lack thereof), I simply do not see how the ACA can be construed as anti-life. I think there is every reason to believe that access to health care will lead to greater maternal and infant health, a reduction in unintended preganancies, and a decrease in the abortion rate.

If you're pro-life--and I am--this ruling is very good news indeed, for unborn children I think, and undeniably for born children , and even more because their parents will now have access to health care they didn't have before.

Still, as a friend on Facebook points out, there will still be 26 million American--close to 10 percent of the population--who will not have access to affordable care. The ACA was a first step, but there is still great distance to go.

The U.S. bishops have now weighed in, continuing their call for a "repair" of the ACA but not joining in on repealing the entire law. Their concerns remain abortion coverage, conscience protection, and the coverage of undocumented immigrants. On the latter: "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.This undermines the Act's stated goal of promoting access to basic life-affirming health care for everyone, especially for those most in need."

The exclusion of undocumented workers from the ACA is, for me, the true fatal flaw. (As I read it, federal funding of abortion and individual conscience protection remains unchanged.) It makes no sense to prevent undocumented workers from buying insurance on the exchanges with their own money. It's cruel on humanitarian grounds, but it's also foolish economically. These families will still be in emergency rooms, where hospitals are still required by law to offer care.