Right-wing extremists win elections based on “right to life” anti-abortion platforms. According to Catholic Church teaching, however, right to life is not meant only for the unborn, but, instead, for a person’s entire lifetime. While the church position on abortion is reprehensible, as it violates our democratic and moral right to privacy, its position on health care reform, environmental protection and trade unionism is both admirable and democratic. Republican opposition on these issues indicates that GOP claims on “right to life” and respect for church teaching are deceitful and hypocritical.
The Roman Catholic Church considers health care a fundamental human right for all persons throughout the world. By contrast, the GOP supports super-profits for Wall Street. GOP lies include bluster about “socialized medicine,” a term, notes Dr. Andrew Weil, that was invented at the height of the Cold War. Dr. Weil quotes Clem Whitaker, a public relations consultant, as saying, “All you have to do is give national health care a bad name, and you are going to have a devil. America is opposed to socialism, so we are going to call national health insurance socialized medicine.”
Once health care for all becomes affordable, health care for all becomes a moral question and a right to life. The GOP is less than truthful about the costs of health care reform. While the present costs exceed $2.5 trillion per year and continue to rise, Medicare for all would cost less than $100 billion per year. The AFL-CIO web site, in support of Medicare for all, points out that “more than one-half of Americans skip needed medical care due to costs.” Republicans ignore the skyrocketing costs, yet continue to call themselves defenders of the right to life.
The AFL-CIO cites a California report that six major insurers reject one-fourth of claims every year. Republicans oppose protection against insurance company denials. While it is true that bureaucrats stand between patients and doctors, the GOP fails to tell us that the obstacles are insurance company bureaucrats.
The GOP demand to exclude abortions from health care reform is outrageous. Even church teaching allows abortion when the mother’s life is threatened. The ultra-right GOP calls abortion murder regardless of health and regardless of the democratic right to privacy. Despite church teaching and despite the health risks, the GOP demands that undocumented immigrants also be excluded from health care reform. The GOP claims to support the right of the unborn to exist, but considers neither health care or environmental protection a human right.
In his 1990 World Day of Peace message, Pope John Paul II announced, “There is a growing awareness that world peace is threatened not only by the arms race, regional conflicts, and continued injustice among peoples and nations, but also by a lack of due respect for nature.”
The Pope continued, “Moreover, a new ecological awareness is beginning to emerge which, rather than being downplayed, ought to be encouraged to develop into concrete programs and initiatives.” The GOP denies the effects of pollution on global warming and uses scientists who are paid to lie by the largest energy corporations. Honest scientists tell us that hundreds of billions are required to repair the damage. According to the Republican Party platform, environmental protection must await prosperity. The GOP is more concerned with the profit loss for their wealth benefactors than with the health of the planet and the people on it.
A leading Roman Catholic champion of environmental justice, Sacred Heart of Mary Sister Marjorie Keenan, says, “To commit oneself to the promotion of a sound and healthy environment for all is to follow God’s plan for creation, a plan entrusted to us from the beginning.”
The GOP is also at odds with church teaching on the dignity and rights of workers. Church doctrine, since Pope Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum,” written in 1891, calls for protection of the rights to organize and join labor unions.
Pope Leo wrote, “Some opportune remedy must be found for the misery and wretchedness pressing so unjustly on the majority of the working class.” Once again, the GOP differs. Republicans strenuously object to the Employee Free Choice Act. While the EFCA would remove the barriers to trade union rights, the GOP offers only phony excuses to deprive workers of their democratic rights. The GOP demands secret ballot, even in the face of company threats. EFCA would allow card-check for worker protection; the GOP prefers not to protect workers’ rights. EFCA calls for mediators when employers refuse to negotiate contracts. The GOP prefers workers to work without contracts. The GOP claims that there is intimidation in trade union organizing. While that charge is true, the GOP fails to tell us 99 percent of the guilty parties are employers.
It should be noted that 12 Major League Baseball Players Association members signed a joint statement calling for passage of EFCA. The statement, released on Oct. 28, said, “All Americans should have the same opportunity we’ve had – to be able to join a union without being fired and to negotiate with their employers without being penalized. … Now more than ever, we need a strong union movement to protect our jobs, our pensions, and our future.”
Republicans claim that taxing drug companies and energy companies would stamp out innovation. The truth is that most of the innovation and nearly all the important research is done with taxpayer money. Government operations when properly funded are models of efficiency. Administration costs for Medicare are less than 3 percent of the total expenditures. Even as a minority party, the Republicans deprived the U.S. Postal Service of funding, and then the Republicans complained about cuts in service. If insurance, drug, and energy companies were taxed out of business, there would be sufficient funds for health care and environmental protection, and production and innovation would not cease – even for a second.
Republicans claim that health care and environmental protection and trade union rights are not listed in the Constitution. Those measures were not mentioned because they were unknown. There were few doctors, no known environmental damage, and no trade unions, as ours was a farming and small business nation. To limit the federal government mainly to military and police operations, as the GOP tries to do, would bring about conditions that we fought against in World War II.
It is fair to conclude, based on their votes in Congress, that the ultra-right Republicans prefer to protect Wall Street wealth and lie about democracy and morality than to make democratic choices.
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