August 2017: Is Health Care a Human Right?

August 2017 Inter-Belief Conversation Café

Is Health Care a Human Right?

Monday, August 21, 2017
7 – 9 p.m.
Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul
1671 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105 (View Map)

In Matthew 25:36 those granted salvation were told (among other things), “When I was sick you looked after me.” Do we need to go further? Is health care a divine mandate? Or is it more complicated? Sitting around a hospital room is one thing; providing effective medical care is another. Must we help those who by smoking, taking illegal drugs, eating too much, or exercising too little may have aided their own destruction? Do we have to take their cigarettes, drugs, and unhealthy food and then put them on a treadmill for their own good? Do we have to treat health care as a limited resource and only provide it when a cure is likely and affordable? Who decides?

As the battle over the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare to some) continues, are we happy with our health care system? Would it meet the requirements of Matthew 25:36? Is it as good as secular nations such as Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Australia provide? Does it cost more and deliver less than socialized medicine? Or do other people’s health care systems only look better from the outside? Does a two part private and public health system as found in Britain, Canada, and Australia still ration the best health care to those who pay more? Does a highly regulated insurance system like Germany’s work better than ours? Since we all die anyway, aren’t we at best delaying the inevitable?

Who decides if we need health care? Anti-vaccination movements may arguably assert a human right, but what happens when the unvaccinated get others sick? Is marijuana an illegal substance or a medical treatment? Should the government regulate what we smoke, drink, and eat to keep us healthier? We now reject body shaming, but what if physical appearance is a sign of poor health? Does reforming school lunches just mean more veggies in the garbage and more McDonald’s takeout bags in the lunch boxes? What is caring for people likely to become sick and what is a “nanny state” nagging them for a good they reject?

Since health care costs are highest in the first and last years of our lives, how do we pay for it and who says enough is enough? Do treatments that prolong life sometimes promote human misery not the pursuit of happiness? But who will pull the plug on a beloved relative even one with a living will? If there is a right to health care is there also a right to die? Are there rights to control potential life like contraception and abortion? Does the state or the individual decide?

Does the right to health care include research and medicine which raises ethical issues? Is stem cell research a right? Is cloning? Is animal testing with fatal results to the animal? Should children be conceived to provide bone marrow transplants for siblings? Is the donation of organs personal preference or something the government should require? What of surgery to improve appearance or allow one to play sports? Is that what health care is all about?

On Monday, August 21 from 7-9 PM, Inter-belief Conversation Café will discuss if health care is a right and who decides what is provided. Agreements of open-mindedness, acceptance, curiosity, discovery, sincerity, brevity, and confidentiality will hopefully keep this a healthy conversation. Treats which may lengthen or shorten your life will be provided!