As the House of Representatives headed out of Washington for a five-week summer recess, with the Senate soon to follow, members of Congress were vowing to listen to their constituents’ views on health care reform. What should the American Catholic public be telling their representatives and senators in light of Catholic social teaching? “We need health reform that respects the life and dignity of every person, from conception to natural death,” said Carol Keehan, a member of the Daughters of Charity who is president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association. “That means the unborn, it means the patient with multiple sclerosis, the patient with cancer, the young mother, the addicted, the mentally ill, the dying patient and the frail, frail elderly.”
In an interview on Aug. 3, Sister Keehan decried the “deliberate distortions” about health care reform being circulated by “those who for whatever reason don’t want health reform to succeed.” The worst of the distortions, Keehan said, is that C.H.A. and Catholic Charities USA are “working at cross-purposes” with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the abortion issue in health reform.
According to Sister Keehan, all three groups are sending a clear message that health reform must be “at least abortion-neutral” and must include conscience protections for health care professionals and institutions that do not want to participate in abortions or other morally objectionable medical procedures.