Southern Religion

A death every 12 minutes from lack of health insurance

While Baptist Press promoted Kelly Bloggs’ shrill, CounterFactual, anti-abortion attack on health care reform, Eduardo Peñalver of Cornell Law School struggled with the daily human-life cost of U.S. health policies. Writing for the Catholic site dotCommonweal, Peñalver cited a new Harvard Medical School study which says:

Nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year — one every 12 minutes — in large part because they lack health insurance and can not get good care, Harvard Medical School researchers found in an analysis released on Thursday. “We’re losing more Americans every day because of inaction … than drunk driving and homicide combined,” Dr. David Himmelstein, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, said in an interview with Reuters

Those were not concerns for Florida Baptist Witness editor James Smith, who was consumed with a conjectural cost in unborn lives, with fantasies of rationed health care and with attempting to prove Obama dishonest in his abortion reduction policies. On that last point, Smith’s arguments finally relied so heavily on arguments made by the National Right to Life Committee that they become almost identical to them. And he closes with a risible reference to “the danger inherent to the elderly” of rationed health care, as if health care were not already rationed. tells us, and agrees, that no version of the health reform legislation proposes new health care rationing.

Peñalvers focused instead on the overarching life issue posed by the deaths of the uninsured and by abortion deaths. Both. He acknowledged the argument that those newly insured via health reform might use resources thus freed up to help pay for an abortion.

What he further considers, but Boggs and Smith do not, is the larger issue:

… wouldn’t this abortion-facilitating argument be equally true for any government subsidy of the poor? How, for example, is it different from saying that we should not give the poor food stamps because (for some undetermined number of people) that will free up money from their personal budgets that they will then use to go out and procure an abortion that they otherwise would not have been able to afford? Should we require food-stamp recipients to sign some pledge that they won’t use their private money to procure abortions? Given the various positions that Obama has taken to try to defuse the abortion issue in the health care context, that it may nonetheless indirectly subsidize abortions strikes me as a very odd argument against Catholics supporting health care reform.

It is similarly odd for Southern Baptists to lose themselves in sweeping claims that the president “and his base supporters in Congress” have an unacknowledged abortion agenda.

If the issue is indeed preservation of life, the Harvard study tells us there is a death every few minutes which suggests that it is not enough to seek fewer abortions.


September 20, 2009 - Posted by | Catholic, Churches, Health, Politics, Religion, SBC | , , ,


  1. It is astonishing, that in this day, we still have no answer to no insurance. Money can be replaced, while people cannot.

    Comment by Juan Batista | September 26, 2009

  2. How many people die from not exercising and overeating? You cannot solve the world’s problems by throwing money at them. People need to take more personal responsibility for their health. – We’re being taxed to death. Not too long ago, people ate in moderation, exercised outdoors and had family members to take care of them when they were sick. What happened?

    Comment by Yvonne | October 14, 2009

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