By Kathleen Gilbert
SIOUX CITY, Iowa, August 18, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In his latest column, Bishop R. Walter Nickless of the Diocese of Sioux City joined a growing number of Catholic leaders in stated opposition to the Obama health care legislation, which is poised to expand abortion by mandating abortion coverage and providing taxpayer subsidies to abortion providers. Niclkess also noted that the Catholic Church has no position for or against any kind of health care distribution, and argued that the structure proposed by the legislation would ultimately be detrimental to distributing health care according to need.
"No health care reform is better than the wrong sort of health care reform," wrote Nickless in a column posted on the diocesan website.
Nickless noted that, amid the "confusion and inaccurate information being thrown around," he and his "brother bishops have described some clear 'goal-posts' to mark out what is acceptable reform, and what must be rejected."
"First and most important, the Church will not accept any legislation that mandates coverage, public or private, for abortion, euthanasia, or embryonic stem-cell research," he said. "We refuse to be made complicit in these evils, which frankly contradict what 'health care' should mean.
"As a corollary of this, we insist equally on adequate protection of individual rights of conscience for patients and health care providers not to be made complicit in these evils," he continued. "A so-called reform that imposes these evils on us would be far worse than keeping the health care system we now have."
Some Catholic organizations, including the Catholic Health Association and Catholic Charities USA, responded to the health care push on Capitol Hill by advocating "health care reform" in the abstract, while not addressing the abortion-promoting and other troubling aspects of President Obama's legislation. The groups responded to criticism by stating that they did not support abortion-promoting legislation or any particular measure; however, none backed down from their original July statement calling upon legislators to enact health care reform "immediately."
Bishop Nickless' column also refuted the notion that the Catholic Church considers "health care," as such, to be a natural human right. Because health care does not come "from God directly" as does the natural bounty of food, water, and air, he said, health care falls in the realm of a political right, as it comes "from our human efforts, creativity, and compassion."
"As a political right, health care should be apportioned according to need, not ability to pay or to benefit from the care," wrote Nickless. How best to administer care to meet this need, he said, falls under the category of "prudential judgement" - in other words, a decision not directly subject to a moral imperative one way or the other.
Nickless emphasized that the Church "does not teach that government should directly provide health care," and argued that making health care "subject to federal monopolization" was a prudentially poor decision. "While a government monopoly would not be motivated by profit," he opined, "it would be motivated by such bureaucratic standards as quotas and defined 'best procedures,' which are equally beyond the influence of most citizens."
"Private, religious hospitals and nursing homes, in particular, should be protected, because these are the ones most vigorously offering actual health care to the poorest of the poor," the bishop noted.
Nickless said that H.R. 3200, as it stands, fails both by moral and prudential standards. He confirmed that the bill circumvents the Hyde amendment - which prohibits federal funds from going to abortions - both by creating a flow of funds outside the scope of the Hyde amendment, and by "creatively manipulating" how other funds are given to abortion groups. Nickless also criticized the "public insurance option" proposed by the bill, saying that it would give smaller employers a financial incentive to dump employees into the public insurance. "This will saddle the working classes with additional taxes for inefficient and immoral entitlements," he said.
"I encourage all of you to make you voice heard to our representatives in Congress," Nickless urged. "Tell them what they need to hear from us: no health care reform is better than the wrong sort of health care reform.
"Insist that they not permit themselves to be railroaded into the current too-costly and pro-abortion health care proposals. Insist on their support for proposals that respect the life and dignity of every human person, especially the unborn. And above all, pray for them, and for our country." (Click here to see Bishop Nickless' discussion of health care reform in full.)
Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, and Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Ore. have also given strong statements in opposition to the current form of the legislation President Obama has been aggressively pushing on Capitol Hill.
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Bishop Vasa: No Support for "Fatally Flawed" Obamacare Bill
Cardinal Rigali, Abp. Chaput Intensify Warnings Against Obamacare's Abortion Expansion