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The Health Care “Moral Obligation” Argument

Dave Schuler, via Cassandra, provides the best counter to the emerging argument on the left meant to reframe the health care debate. That of a supposed “moral obligation” to provide it through government.

As I’ve said before, I don’t believe that there’s a right to healthcare nor have I seen a coherent argument made that it is, merely a claim. However, bear with me.

Is it possible to make a coherent argument that government-provided healthcare is a moral obligation but that our obligation doesn’t extend to people in Zambia? I don’t think it is but I’m willing to listen to the arguments.

As am I. Because what Schuler lays out there in question form is the logical extension of such a “moral obligation”. It is either a universal one (government has the obligation to provide health care to everyone), or it is no moral obligation at all – just another bit of cheap political rhetoric designed to appeal to your emotions.

And that brings me to the attempt this past week by Obama to enlist religious leaders into his campaign by claiming such a moral obligation (MichaelW has written about it here) and framing it in such a way that the inevitable “What Would Jesus Do” questions emerge.

Well, quite frankly, Jesus wouldn’t say anything about the state, much less anything about the state providing aid and comfort to the people. As is clear to even those with just a passing familiarity with Jesus’s ministry he implored individuals to care for their friends, neighbors and even strangers in need.

But the state was never a part of his ministry or his exhortations to help the poor. In fact he made a distinct separation between the two noting that the state was of this world and his ministry was of the divine.

Ironically, if George Bush had said some were out there were “bearing false witness”, or called his effort “40 days to health care reform”, or had told religious leaders that he felt that it was a “moral obligation” to provide health care (through government) the left would have exploded. We’d have seen references to separation of church and state and claims we were headed into a “theocracy” from the usual suspects.

Yet so desperate is the left right now to push government run health care that even the sort of appeal for religious support that would have initiated a veritable feeding frenzy with the anti-Christian zealots among them has solicited barely a whisper of dissent.

In a free country if you feel you have a moral obligation to provide health care to others, no one will stop you from acting to provide it. However, in a free country, no one will force you to act on what they arbitrarily choose to define as a “moral obligation” and with which you don’t agree.

~McQ

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