Insurance Questions of the Day

Insurance Questions of the Day July 21, 2010

Should Catholics who sell insurance for companies that provide for abortion care be excommunicated? Should those who work for companies that provide for abortions be excommunicated? Should those who work for companies that cut off health care support because it is too expensive, creating a situation where euthanasia occurs, be excommunicated? Should Catholics who buy insurance from companies that provide for abortion be excommunicated? Where exactly does one draw the line for excommunication based upon support for abortion?

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  • Pinky

    OK, I’ll go first, always with the caveat that I could be wrong.

    I think it’s the same as voting for a pro-choicer. If you’re doing it in order to support abortion, it’s seriously sinful. If you’re doing it in spite of that, and working to counter the impact of that, then it’s up to prudential judgement.

    I don’t think any of the cases you mentioned are excommunicatable, although I could maybe be persuaded on the selling of insurance. Working for companies that provide *for* abortions shouldn’t lead to excommunication. The euthanasia example isn’t even sinful. Buying insurance that indirectly supports abortion may not be avoidable, but a person should avoid it if able. Directly funding abortions or compelling people to do so is seriously sinful.

  • Kurt


    Please understand that while abortion is regrettable, it is a much greater sin for the government to interfere in the private market. God, in His wisdom has given the rich and powerful authority over workers and the “small people” (as one CEO says). Government interference in this divinely sanctioned natural order only will create more problems than it solves.

    However, when government acts even in a more limited way to indirectly finance abortion it is a double evil — against life AND against the free market. And as a double evil, it must be doubly opposed.

  • doug

    Question 1: Yes, for the same reason a politician who votes in favor of abortion should be excommunicated, even if this is voting for a budget that includes abortion funding.

    Question 2: Yes, if they are doing any work for the company connected to abortion, such as processing bills, sending doctors orders, etc. If the work they do is unconnected, then no, and they have a duty to refuse if asked to do anything connected to abortion.

    Question 3: I think this question is based on a misunderstanding of what insurance is. It is not an entitlement. It is a contract. People are free to enter into contracts, and different insurance plans are priced according to the level of service. If they are following the contract, then no. If they break a contract because it is cheaper to let the patient die, then absolutely, provided that they were the employee that broke the contract or encouraged others to do so. People should read contracts carefully, and an insurance plan is a form of contract.

    Question 4: No. Sometimes one is limited in their choice of insurance. Purchasing coverage for medical expenses doesn’t imply that one will use those services. I may purchase insurance that covers exposure for fertility treatments, but have no intent to use them, or for cosmetic procedures. But if one has the option to purchase an affordable insurance plan that does not include abortion or contraceptive coverage, then one should do so instead.

    The line is drawn when one’s actions directly enable the sinful act. I’m not talking about a cab driver taking someone to an appointment unknowingly, because that is indirectly enable the act. It means when that is the essential subject matter of the act, whether that be selling a policy, passing legislation, paying for it, or processing the bills or orders. Remote material cooperation is not sinful, although it should be avoided if possible.

  • Pinky

    Kurt, was that a parody of my answer? If so, how?

  • Kurt


    No, I wrote it prior to your comment’s posting. Actually your post is quite sensible.

  • Frank

    I thought along the sames as Kurt but he’s expressed it much better than I could.

    Free Enterprise and the infallibility of the American Marketplace are sacrosanct. It would be most unpatriotic to criticize (let alone excommunicate!) someone for turning a buck. If it seems a little shady or immoral, you probably have an overly scrupulous conscience. A buck’s a buck and that’s what really matters. Above all, keep the silly government regulations out of the private sector and the economy will hum right along without a hitch.

  • I think the executives who decided to include abortion coverage would be morally culpable (excommunication depends on a lot more circumstances then you provided). Otherwise, anyone who worked for the government would also be excommunicated.

    For the other examples, Catholics should seek insurance that does not cover abortion if they have the means to do so. I would think it honorable for someone to leave their job if their employer sold abortion coverage but I would need more facts before saying they are obligated to do so.

  • Alex

    Murderers are not usually excommunicated, regardless of civil culpability or state of repentance at death.

    Full stop. End of story, though not of hysteria.

  • markdefrancisis

    Should Catholics who work in pharmacies which dispense the morning after pill be excommunicated?

    • Mark

      It’s quite clear to me there are people in the health care profession, who have more direct connections to abortion, who are being ignored so that those who have more indirect connections can be slammed. It’s sad, isn’t it? I’m not saying that people should or should not be excommunicated, but I am asking for people to at least be consistent; if they want to excommunicate people for very possible (not even proven) very remote material cooperation with abortion, what about those who have far more at stake in the industry, are far higher up in the industry, and seem to get by without criticism. It’s clear the reason why — there is no interest in changing the system.

  • Kurt

    It’s quite clear to me there are people in the health care profession, who have more direct connections to abortion, who are being ignored so that those who have more indirect connections can be slammed.

    But there is no purpose to slamming these health care professionals. They ar not the ones raising the minimum wage, regulating the Big Banks, expanding Pell Grants and Unemployment Insurance.

  • Au contraire, Henry: Excommunication-happy Catholics want to return society and the Church to where they were before 1962. There’s plenty of interest in changing the system so it looks more like 1962.

    And they shouted all the louder: “Excommunicate him! Excommunicate him!”

  • Pinky

    Henry, where’s the inconsistency?