Health care as a right?

By | November 24, 2010

While understandably concerned about moral objections to the new health care act, the church has long supported the idea of expanding health care to more Americans. Church leaders reason that affordable, accessible health care is part of society’s obligation to its citizens.

Not everyone shares this view.

One of the outspoken critics of government supported health care is political commentator Glenn Beck. Last August, Beck lambasted health care reform, saying that people do not have a right to affordable health care.

“We have a right to health care, really?” Beck said on his radio program. “God doesn’t give health care. Man provides health care. So how can it be a right? If you are endowed by your Creator with certain unalienable rights, how can a God-given right be health care, unless Jesus comes down and starts to open up a clinic and heal us himself?”

Well it wasn’t exactly an endorsement from Jesus, but Beck got his answer Nov. 18, when Pope Benedict XVI, in a written message to participants at a health care ministry conference at the Vatican, said adequate health care was one of man’s “inalienable rights.”

“Justice in health care should be a priority of governments and international institutions,” said the pope’s message at the 25th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. His words were echoed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state.

“Justice requires guaranteed universal access to health care,” he said, noting that basic medical care is “commonly accepted as a fundamental human right.”

Beck and all of the other talking heads who condemn the concept of health care for all people can take to the airwaves and blogs knowing that the vicar of Christ on earth supports universal health care as an unalienable right.

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