A striking combox comment

A few years back, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a letter explaining that, in the act of voting, a person might vote for a politician who advocates grave intrinsic evil if he thinks there is a proportional reason for doing so. The letter was, of course, seized upon by certain conservative Catholics as a justification for supporting politicians who support torture. No. Not “enhanced interrogation” or some other bunkum euphemism. Torture. The reasons for the seizure by pro-torture conservatives were often confused since Cardinal Ratzinger’s point was that, in voting for the politician, you were supposed to be voting for them for some other (good) reason despite their support for the grave intrinsic evil of torture, while many conservative Catholic torture defenders saw support for torture as a feature, not a bug, and so were supporting pols *because* they advocated the use of torture (always carefully euphemized as “enhanced interrogation”) not in spite of that fact.

What was funny, though, was that, in the unseemly haste to enlist the Cardinal’s letter as a justification for voting for torture pols, the discussion seldom addressed itself to what the letter actually had in view, which was not torture, but abortion and euthanasia. For what the future Holy Father said was:

A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.]

Now, for myself, I can adduce no proportional reason that would justify a vote for a pro-abort politician. Therefore, I will not vote for one, any more than I will vote for a pro-torture one. But saying that is not to say that I do not believe anybody is capable of finding proportional reasons. That is why, while I will argue with anybody who tries to tell me I must vote for a pol who advocates grave evil, I do not assume that it is impossible for anybody to feel themselves in a position where they honestly believe that a vote for a pro-abort or pro-torture candidate (for the proportional reasons Cardlinal Ratzinger describes) is appropriate.

I mention this, because recently, over on Simcha Fisher’s blog, a reader writes a letter which seems to me to be a reasonable specimen of thinking from somebody who, though he makes a very different moral calculus from me, seems to do so honorably. I reprint it here, not with the expectation that anybody agree with it, but with the exhortation to bear in the back of your mind Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter:

Everyone, I hate to put my elbow in your punchbowl, but I think Barack Obama is (and will be remembered as) one of the greatest presidents in American history.

I grew up as the youngest of seven children in a Irish family so noisy our surname should have been “Cacophony.” We lived just down the alley from a enormous Catholic Church and, of course, we all went to the parish school. When I was an eighth grader in 1960, the nuns solemnly assured us that John Kennedy could never be elected President because he was a Catholic. “Remember Al Smith,” the older ones would say, not realizing that 1928 was a bit before our time. Then President Kennedy was elected, and all of us realized that we hadn’t given ourselves enough credit – that our fellow Americans weren’t so low-minded, after all, not to vote for a man because they hated his religion.

Forty eight years later, I was the old fogey who had lost his youthful faith in the American people – I didn’t think that a black man could be elected President for at least another fifty years. And my failure was the same as my elders’ had been in 1960 – I hadn’t given my fellow Americans enough credit. I didn’t believe they would put race aside in making their choice, but they did.

Simcha, I’m the prototype of those you characterize as “Death Eaters, oh pardon me, nuanced, neo-patriotic intellectuals who courageously support a global progressive agenda.” I’m a multi-degreed professional and I do indeed support a global progressive agenda.

If I might, let me tell you a bit about my “nuanced, neo-patriotism.” In 1966 I left my small Catholic men’s college with several of my friends to join the army. We did so because the war in Vietnam had begun and we were comfortable middle-class kids who couldn’t bear the idea of not doing our part in bearing arms for our country. Apparently, rough, tough, hairy chested conservative patriots like Dick Cheney (who patiently explained away his five draft deferments to a reporter by saying that he had “different priorities” during Vietnam than serving in the military), or George Bush, who got his daddy to put him into “The Champaign Flight” of the Texas Air National Guard (along with Lloyd Bentsen’s son) so he’d be safe and sound, or Bill Clinton (a conservative Dixiecrat) who avoided the draft by hiding at Oxford, felt much differently than we did.

I enlisted for four years, rather than the two required by the draft, because I thought I had some unique talents to share with my country. I ended up on a tiny speck in the Bering Sea 166 nautical miles from the Soviet Union, listening day and night for the tiniest slip by the Soviets that might indicate the beginning of a nuclear war – a war in which I’d be the first of millions to die.

When I returned home, I discovered that my wife wasn’t the droll, cheerful girl I’d married three years before. You see, there was something wrong with our baby, something she couldn’t put her finger on. Well, several years and many thousand of dollars later we were told it was autism, a malady so foreign four decades ago that most child psychiatrists hadn’t even heard the word. I returned to school at the University of Minnesota, although my studies were just a sideline. My real job was trying to get help for my son, and it was then that I became involved with some of the most wonderful people in the world. They were psychologists and psychiatrists, speech therapists and psychiatric and county social workers, and, most of all, special education teachers and child care workers.

They moved heaven and earth to help my son and my wife, who was sinking ever deeper into depression. By the way, it was the State of Minnesota and the counties of Anoka, Hennepin and Ramsey who helped my son and others like him. It was government at its very best, government by Republicans and Democrats who believed that they were indeed their brother’s keepers. The government did for me, and my son, and my wife, what we simply could not do for ourselves. Sorry, but I just don’t think we were welfare chiselers or parasites or socialists.

We had to make the decision very early in our son’s life to institutionalize him. That broke our hearts, but it was what had to be done. He’s remained in institutional care, and, in fact, will have been in the same placement for thirty years this July, in a group home founded by the wife of a Methodist Minister who was mentored by a Catholic nun. There’s a woman working there who’s supervised my son for twenty five years and who loves him every bit as much as her own sons. And she’s not an exception to the rule.

As I look at the long parade of people who’ve been involved in my son’s life, I am so grateful that tears stream down my cheeks. They have been, and they are, living saints. I know in the marrow of my bones that the Holy Spirit lives in them and is the source of their boundless compassion. These folks are the Kingdom of God for me and my son, and virtually all draw some sort of a government paycheck, either directly or indirectly.

So I believe that government is part of God’s plan for us all, and that the police officers and firefighters and soldiers and sailors and airmen who risk their lives for us aren’t minions of the devil. Government is indeed the solution, and it’s certainly not the problem. Not at all.

Six years ago next month, I sat in the University of Minnesota Hospital at the bedside of the woman who had been that depressed, hopeless young mother. She was dying of liver disease and was in the final hours of her life. Although she had slipped into a coma two days before, I was reading aloud “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” her favorite book, hoping that it might give her some comfort as she faded away. Although I didn’t know it, a woman two floors above us, who also had Type AB blood and a very healthy liver as well, had just died of a massive aneurysm. Of course, it “just happened” that the University of Minnesota Hospital is one of the premier organ transplant centers in world, and that a team of transplant surgeons were on duty that night.

I don’t know about you, but I’m sure that those events weren’t coincidental. No way. It was God’s will that she live.

She’s alive and very healthy today. Her health insurance and medicaid paid for the millions of dollars in medical bills, money that she and I couldn’t possibly come up with on our own. Government and its resources – from Medical Assistance to a land grant university hospital – saved her life.

I believe in the power of government to enhance people’s lives. That’s why I’m a Democrat.

Now, do I believe in abortion? Of course not! But I don’t – and you don’t as well – have the luxury of a candidate and a party that completely conforms to my conscience. I believe in a culture of life as deeply as you do, a culture of life which is concerned with the born as much as the unborn, a culture of life that mourns the fact that some of our children go to bed hungry each night. My mother, God rest her soul, had eight full term pregnancies in 13 years, and thus had very little time to teach us our religion. In fact, all she really did was repeat endlessly that “Whatever you do for one of these, the least of my Brethren, you do for me.” In my lifetime, it’s been the Democrats who were most concerned, not about George Bush’s base (“the haves and the have-mores”), but about “the least of my Brethren.” I just don’t think that Dorothy Day, one of my favorite Catholic heroes, would be comfortable with the Republicans.

So, I believe that, on balance, President Obama and the Democratic Party are better for this country than Mitt Romney and the Republican Party. And Geraldine, Jonathan and I are probably the only readers of this blog who do.

I’ve scoured the New Testament and I’ve yet to find a requirement for all Catholics to think alike. The Acts of the Apostles record that Christians began to have heated arguments about virtually everything almost as soon as Jesus ascended into heaven. If you know any priests or other religious on a personal level, you know they disagree with each other all the time about theological and pastoral matters. After all, this is the Church of Augustine and Aquinas and of illiterate peasant children like Jacinta and Francisco Marto and Lucia dos Santos as well. No institution on earth can match its immense diversity. For instance, as far as the Magisterium is concerned, just hang around a Department of Theology at a good Catholic school for fifteen minutes and you’ll hear so many different points of view that your head will be spinning. So what?

We’re all Brothers and Sisters in Christ. We don’t have to agree to love one another, to care for one another, to pray with and for one another. We’re all Catholics, and while we may not care to sit together at mass, we are commanded by Christ to love each other “as I have loved you.”

And that means that I don’t get to call you “Fascists” any more than you get to call me “Socialist” or “Communist.” It means that bearing false witness against our neighbor includes sweeping hyperbole such as “Obama taking us on a fast track to atheistic socialism or Romney taking us on a fast track to an amoral oligarchy of hedge fund managers.” The President hasn’t said a single word about seizing guns or overturning the Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution. He’s not trying to destroy the Catholic Church which employs hundreds of thousands of Americans of all religions in its health care institutions by requiring it to provide contraceptive coverage in its health care plans – twenty eight states already require the Church to do so. And the last time I took a look, Republicans – even the Tea Party types – don’t have cloven hooves or tails.

So, please, let’s just dial the invective back and agree to disagree. Okay?

I know. I know. There are points in the letter that are simply factually wrong. I get that. I didn’t say I agree with him on every point. But stop. Deep cleansing breaths. Listen to the guy. Listen to his history. Before responding with cliches and labels, pay attention to the guy’s history. Doesn’t mean a reasoned argument cannot be made against the reader’s positions on certain points. But remember what Cardinal Ratzinger said. Make the effort of imagination to apply to him the patience and willingness to assume good faith that you would apply to a member of your own tribe.

To be clear: this post is not about voting like this guy. This post is about *seeing* this guy: realizing that he is an honorable person who should be engaged with love and respect and not simply dismissed with contempt. He’s made a good faith effort. I think our common faith requires we do the same.

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  • MattyD

    Wonderful post, Mark.

  • Kirt Higdon

    I’m not a tactical voter; if the best I can say for a candidate is that he is a lesser evil, he doesn’t get my vote. But I can understand that many (maybe most) people vote on that basis. Either they think it’s a good way to vote or they’ve been told it’s the only moral way to make a voting decision. But to vote for Obama because he’s one of the greatest presidents in US history is simply dillusional unless the standard for US presidents is much lower than even I have imagined. Completely missing from the analysis is the death and destruction which Obama visits on foreigners on a daily basis. I don’t know if this is just taken for granted or counted as a point in Obama’s favor. Lincoln and Roosevelt, the country’s two biggest killer presidents are usually considered the greatest. I hope and pray that Barry Obomber will not go for their record. The recent squabble over the Bin Laden hit ad is most discouraging. Apparently, the coming campaign will be based on competitive claims as to which party has killed/will kill more foreigners.

  • WendyL

    This Memorandum warrants fact checking, because if it’s authentic it is certainly in tension if not conflict with other statements from various bishops about forming one’s conscience to vote. The statement that it can be morally licit to vote for a candidate who advocates for abortion if that is not “precisely” the reason one is voting for him just does not sound like Ratzinger. That statement appears in a “nota bene” in brackets at the end of the Memorandum. Can anyone verify that Ratzinger wrote that nota bene? I searched the Vatican website and couldn’t find it, but it might not be the kind of thing that is kept there. Could PFL have added it? or Cardinal McCarrick (the recipient)?

    • Mark Shea

      It’s from Ratzinger. And it makes perfect sense.

  • Irenist

    Thanks for this. I think there are thoughtful, loyal Catholics on all sides of the question of whom to vote for. You, Mr. Shea, have made some thought-provoking arguments for abstaining from voting for advocates of grave evil. The letter you’ve quoted above for voting Democratic is far from airtight, but seems prayerfully considered. Jimmy Akin has argued compellingly for the primacy of abortion compared to other issues when contemplating a vote for president.

    I’ve long considered myself a pro-life Democrat, but Jimmy Akin’s argument has made me rethink how I vote for the presidency. I remember thinking in 2008 that perhaps Obamacare would reduce incentives for abortion by making healthcare access for new moms less of an issue. I canvassed for Obama in the swing state in which I lived, and was delighted when Obama won, but hoped he wouldn’t have the chance to appoint any Supreme Court justices. Now, Obama has had the chance to appoint two pro-choice justices, and Obamacare may not survive in the Court–pretty much exactly the opposite of what I hoped would happen. And then there’s this HHS mandate. To say that I’m chastened by all of it would be an understatement.

    I can’t quite bring myself to vote G.O.P. for the presidency yet (inter alia, the bellicosity on foreign policy terrifies me), but I think I’ll probably vote Libertarian this year. I don’t live in a swing state anymore, so it’s all fairly symbolic, anyway. As for my Democratic proclivities on economics, I’ve been thinking lately that I ought to confine my donations/activism on that front to state government and House races, where Supreme Court nominations (which involve only the President and the Senate) won’t be involved.

    Anyway, these issues aren’t easy. But thanks for being one of the voices that helps me work through them.

    • Mark Shea

      For my own take on voting as a moral act, go here.

      • Irenist

        I recall having read that soon after you posted it. I don’t (yet?) approach voting the way you do, but you make a very persuasive case, and one I think about often. I wouldn’t be surprised if I eventually come to see it your way.

  • Sal

    I am willing to accept and understand the writer’s fear that without government, the help that he and his family received would not exist. I would hope that he would be willing to consider our fear that beyond providing help for those who need and want it, the government is now moving steadily to intervene in all areas of our lives, ostensibly for our own good, but more to simply control us.
    If his argument is that we are alarmists, and ‘that will never happen here’, I refer him to the HHS mandate.

  • Sure, the government does some good, especially (some) local government. It’s the federal government that is out of control. I agree with Sal above that it is a fallacy to say that, without government, the help that he and his family received would not exist. But on an emotional level, I understand it.

    In my opinion, it still doesn’t come close to justifying a vote for Obama or the Dems, but again, he probably isn’t thinking clearly (who completely does?)

  • ds

    If it makes you guys feel any better, I just vote democrat because I like killing babies.

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    One of the reasons for the high cost of medical care is that one end of the hose (Medicare) is in the federal treasury, and any time you increase the number of dollars chasing the goods, the unit price of those goods will increase. Cures, no matter how well intentioned, often create their own diseases.

    It is also worth noting that the originally Catholic notion of “social justice” was based on subsidiarity; that is, on giving what is due to not only the individual and the omnicompetent federal Government, but to family, neighborhood, associations, town and county, church, and so on. Your comm boxer felt he had to rely on government in some measure because by our era, the government has elbowed many of our social institutions out of the public square, leaving the lone individual facing the omnicompetent State across a barren wasteland littered with the remains of our “little battalions” of ordinary life. The buffers have been removed. He had to rely on the state because nowadays we have “Everything within the state; nothing outside the state; nothing against the state.”

    • Irenist

      First, a query that may sound like a gotcha: It’s my understanding that the other OECD nations, which have more statist healthcare systems than we do, spend far less per patient on healthcare than the U.S., and yet have similar or better health outcomes. Is this incorrect? If not, how does you theory explain it? Certainly, your supply & demand narrative sounds plausible to me. If it wasn’t for the OECD data, it would seem obviously true. But there’s that data. What do you make of it? I really am curious. I’ve seen enough of your posts to know you’re at the very least more numerate than me, and perhaps just plain smarter altogether, so I’m curious what you think.

      Second, I think the “nothing but the state” narrative doesn’t go far enough back historically. To put it in Distributist terms, I would narrate as follows: As “sheep ate men” (i.e., sturdy yeomen were dispossessed by the wealthy and displaced by technology and trade) in the plutocratic aftermath of the Reformation, the poor became an urban proletariat subject to Dickensian squalor. Private charity and self-help flourished at first (leading to groups like the Knights of Columbus), but proved insufficient in the Great Depression, so the proles voted for the Servile State. In principle, a return to private charity and a move away from the Servile State is both desirable and perhaps necessary to the survival of any Western Civilization worthy of the name. So far, I think we’d agree. Where I may differ is this: like the Whig aristocrats of old, the so-called 1% now have a disproportionate amount of the wealth, partly because of corrupt shenanigans and corporate welfare, but at least as often because in a globalized economy, they are justly earning the returns on their extraordinary talent and hard work. However, until at least some of this is redistributed, the mass of people lack sufficient resources to be left to their own charitable resources. Do you disagree? If so, where am I wrong? (Please note that I’m actually quite open to having my mind changed on both of these questions. Thanks.)

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        It depends. To take one example, in 1998 (which I have handy) infant mortality in Switzerland was 4.8 per 1,000 live births; while in the United States i was 7.2 per 1,000 live births. Seems like worse “health outcomes” for the USA.
        However, in Switzerland (and the EU in general) infants born <30 cm in length are not counted as live births in the first place and no effort is made to sustain them.
        In the US, about ⅓ of infant deaths are <2.2 lbs. (We use weight; they use length.) Such premature births are typically less than 30 cm in length; so while not identical, they are much the same category. That is, about one-third of US infant deaths would not be counted as a death in Europe since the baby is not counted as being born alive in the first place.
        If we correct (very roughly) for this and take two-thirds of the US rate, we get US rate ≈ ⅔(7.2) = 4.8
        Which is the same as Switzerland.
        + + +
        A WHO analysis some years ago (though much criticized statistically) had to add a financial factor to lower the US ranking. On a purely medical basis, the US ranked too high to suit them. Prices are higher in the US. But it is hard to meaningfully compare how much an American must pay for an MRI scan versus a Briton who was denied an MRI scan. Theoretically, the Briton pays nothing.
        + + +
        Aside from the inflationary effect of third-party payments, other factors influencing medical costs are the complexity of the product, precautionary testing motivated by fear of lawsuits, and so on.
        + + +
        Keep in mind Haldane's essay "On being the right size." Something that works well enough at one scale may fail completely at another. Haldane used the example of the managements system of Henry Ford's Motor Company. It might run Andorra effectively; but would break down on something the size of the UK. Similarly, in the aforesaid UN-WHO ranking of national healthcare, most of the top ten were places like Singapore, Lichtenstein, etc. The three biggies were France, Germany, and Japan. The first two are about a quarter the size of the US; the latter about a third. Put another way, France, Germany, or the UK would be equivalent to the US from Maine down to Virginia and out to either Ohio or West Virginia, depending.
        + + +
        Canada's system, which is accounted a very good one, is not a national one. Each province has its own system. The largest is Ontario's, which is about the size of Illinois in pop. And Ontario is going bust from the runaway costs. One wag suggests that we would like a Canadian system if only we could get the Canadians to come down and run it for us.
        + + +
        The USA is a federal union of 50 sovereign states. Why cannot each state set up its own system, like Massachusetts and Oregon have done? Then we can watch to see which ones blow up, like Massachusetts and Oregon are doing.
        + + +
        Last random thought:
        The French system is different from the British, which is different from the Canadian. When we talk about government health care, which are we talking about? Just because something is CALLED "health care reform" doesn't make it so. Hilary Clinton's task force labored for months to come up with their Mussolini-like "alliances." This time around we have a hodge-podge of little-known content thrown together by politicians who had frozen out all participation by the opposition. What on earth persuades anyone that it would work better than what we have now?

    • Mark Shea

      No argument from me.

  • ivan_the_mad

    We should also not forgot to make the distinction that Republocrats at the local and state level often have very different priorities than their national counterparts, i.e. a Democrat’s pro-choice stance can have very different consequences at the level of the presidency as opposed to the level of a county commissioner.

  • Can someone define torture? How do I know if something is torture?
    If I integrate you for 72 hours with no rest, is that torture? How about 12 hours? How about 1 hour? When does it become torture? If I put a terrorist in a cell surrounded by infidels where he can no longer see his family & friends or go to his mosque, could he not say it is torture for him?
    Let face it. Torture can be subjective.

    • Mark Shea

      You are the very first person to ever raise this question. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2009/05/the-definition-game.html

    • Irenist

      This might help. It’s from Part III, Section II, Chapter 2, Article 5 of the Catechism, which deals with respect for life through the prism of the Fifth Commandment:

      2297: “Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.”

      Note that “moral violence” is included. All waterboarding opponents are asking for is an end to physical violence. The Church expects far more than that as a bare minimum.

      • Mark Shea

        Indeed, the Church doesn’t say, “Get as close as you can to torturing people without quite technically, precisely, you know, torturing them.” She says “Treat prisoners humanely”. Do that, and you won’t have to engage in “Golly! Who even knows *what* torture is!” rationalizations for abusing prisoners.

        • My point is that there IS subjectivity; same with Just War. If you take the issue of abortion for example, there is no subjectivity, human life beings at conception as an objective fact. Thank you for that link by the way!

          • Mark Shea

            The rationalizing mind can always find a way to introduce subjectivity. “Do we even know when a person comes into existence? Has the Church ever defined whether suction aspiration is abortion?, etc.” And, by the way, if you are going to play the “subjectivity” game, get ready to also cast almost all grave sin into doubt. What is fornication anyway? Pornography? That’s all subjective. Emotional abuse? Who knows *what * it is? And so forth.

          • Ted Seeber

            There is subjectivity in this case- note the difference between the Church’s definition and mine below.

            But the points made by the Church and myself, while different, lead to the same thing:
            1. Prisoners are human beings and should be treated as such.
            2. Interrogation rarely yields truth when pain is involved.

            Between the two of these, what more do you want? Egg in your beer?

    • “If I integrate you for 72 hours with no rest, is that torture?”

      It depends who or what I am being integrated with. Sorry, couldn’t resist…

    • ivan_the_mad

      “If I integrate you for 72 hours with no rest, is that torture?”
      I guess that depends entirely on how much you like (or dislike) calculus.

    • Ted Seeber

      Torture is any level of stress or pain in an interrogation that will cause the individual to reveal the information that the interrogator wants to hear.

      If that definition alone doesn’t show you the fallacy involved, let me restate it to make it clear:

      Torture is any level of stress or pain in an interrogation that will cause the individual to reveal the information that the interrogator wants to hear- WHETHER THAT CONFESSION IS TRUE OR FALSE AND TOTALLY IRRESPECTIVE OF REALITY.

      • Mark Shea

        Not true. Not all torture is done in search of information. Read the link I gave above.

  • j. blum

    How often have you stayed up for 72 hours, Ben?

  • Ted Seeber

    To me, the one adequate balancing good to abortion in federal law is WIC.

    While most Democrats are nominally for it, quite a few admit they’d like to see that program’s share of the welfare budget decreased- and the main way to decrease it? More abortion! And Republicans want to do away with this fine pro-life program for the poor altogether!

    • carlamariee

      Thank you. One party claims to want abortion illegal, but never really does anything. Another makes no such claims and yet provides a social safety nets that makes it possible for a pregnant mother to imagine how she could support herself and her baby. Which is more encouraging of life? The view from the trenches: Republicans get elected, budgets for child immunizations, women’s shelters, etc. get slashed, abortion goes up. While combox arguments rage on as to whether the government or Church should be responsible no one actually takes responsibility except, to a certain degree, the Democrats.

  • SusanM.

    With all due respect, it seems as though the person in question believes with all his heart from his personal experience that the Democratic party and President Obama are the most moral choice because they have helped him personally. However, from my perspective, he seems to be looking at things through a very skewed lense. I don’t blame him. It sounds as if he had some rather tragic issues in regards to his son and wife. I must say, though, that based on my own tragic issues with long-term chronic illness for my two youngest children, I have a completely different take on government. When our daughter was born with a diaphramatic hernia, we were told she had a 80% chance of living through corrective surgery and a 20% chance to live a week after that. The alternative to surgery was to let her starve to death. We were horrified at the idea and so she had surgery, which was not recommended, but was allowed. Our private insurance covered most of the expenses, and, 21 years later, praise God, she is a college engineering student and will finish her degree in 4 years rather than the usual 5. She has been a blessing and we couldn’t be happier. However – while I was home with her during her long convalesence from the surgery, Hillary-care was being debated. My ears were finely tuned to this topic, from our experience with the healthcare field. I was horrified to learn that one of the keys to keeping the cost of Hillary’s national healthcare down was to not cover newborns until 8 days after birth and not to cover congenital defects. Not only that, but private insurance coverage would not be allowed. The implication was clear, let them die off, because it is cheaper. And it will be illegal to keep them alive even at your own expense.
    This was my first inkling to what level my family’s beloved Democrats had sunk. Then our son was born, also with a diaphramatic hernia. He has had no end to the complications from his hernia but private insurance covers it and we are free to travel from our rural SD home to MN and NE to get the care he needs. Which we do. Often. Then there was Terry Schaivo.
    Fast forward to the 2008 elections and the hysterics had over Sarah Palin and her son Trig. How DARE she let him LIVE! Don’t they know that there are tests you can have to find out about Down’s so you don’t have to burden society with one? Then came the ACA debates which I also followed avidly because at the time it was enacted I was in MN at the very same University of Minnesota hospital that the commentor praises (he’s right, they’re awesome) while my son had 2nd second 10 hour spine surgery in 3 weeks. Had ACA been in effect, either when he was born, or at any point during the times he has needed care, it would have been too bad for him. Because if the State is in charge, you go when they say, and you take what you can get. There will be no traveling between Health Exchanges and no getting care outside your exchange once ACA final. There will be no granting of services without “reasonable expectation of success” which will be defined, not by you, but by some bureaucrat. He would very likely be dead because he would have never been granted the original surgery to correct his hernia. Instead, thanks to myriads of doctors, he is very much alive, a member of the high school soccer team and happy, in spite of some very grim times over the years. No bureaucrat can predict that sort of outcome. And private insurance, while it is not perfect, can be dealt with because it is a paid service. They lose customers if it becomes known that they do not deal well with their clients. With government largess, however, the question becomes, “How dare you expect the rest of the country to pay for your sick kid? Haven’t you people used up enough of our precious services?”
    With bureaucrats, it will always come down to cost containment, and trust me, if they ever develop a prenatal diagnosis for autism, it will be on the hit list too. Just like Down’s Syndrome and Spina Bifida. And thanks to the Mandate, Catholic hospitals will be forced to provide abortions in these cases and Catholic parents will be forced to submit to them. If not right away, as soon as they can manage it.
    There have been Republicans and Democrats in government for many, many years, and the Republicans do not shut down the hospitals when they are in charge, any more that the Democrats do. The Democrats do, however, want to have the government in charge of everything, so that it, and not the individual, makes the decisions over who gets what. And anyone who thinks that President Obama, and indeed all of the major Democrats do not promote abortion as the answer to every question involving women being “punished with a baby” nor thinks the answer to healthcare costs is to “give Grandma a pill” has not been paying attention. That is why I am not a Democrat any longer.