Pro-life? Then support universal health care.

Yesterday I attended a talk about doctors and medicine under Nazi rule. The talk focused on the historical aspects, but the advertising for it seemed to indicate a relationship with the current health care debate. Realistically, the only connection presented was this:

“When Americans accuse other Americans of being Nazis, that shows they don’t know or comprehend what Nazis really did.”

And that’s pretty generally true. But yet, there was a link.

As the film covered the eugenics run-up to Nazi sterilization and euthanasia in the 1920’s and 1930’s [1], we saw propaganda promoting the social good of the eugenics movement. To paraphrase one clip: “The care for this mentally retarded child will cost the government thousands of dollars.” The image below is another good example.

It was chilling to see such a blatant dollar amount put on a life. When we say a human life is worth a certain amount of money, we make inhuman decisions – like deciding whether or not to give someone medical care – the appearance of being rational. Some folks are already claiming that national health care would do something like that.

But the system we have now does exactly that..

Our current “free market” system of insurers do exactly the same thing, denying care to people who develop life-threatening conditions and treating even domestic abuse as a pre-existing condition. It is not profitable, they say, regardless of the inhumanity of deciding someone should die so they can make more of a profit. Hospitals in some states – most notably Texas in 1999 while George W. Bush was governor – can decide to stop providing care to a patient due to financial reasons. And it’s all perfectly legal.

And it continues, because we make it seem rational to blatantly put a dollar amount on a life. To worry more about profits than about the health of an individual. And that brings me to my final question.

Where the hell are the pro-lifers?

I hear the pro-life organizations talk about the sanctity of life for the unborn. Sometimes they’ll talk about the sanctity of life in regards to the death penalty, and much more rarely about warfare.

Denying basic medical care to any individual is violating the “sanctity of life”. [2] When basic medical care is denied, people die. The deaths are preventable. [3]

But the pro-life groups are silent.

And so I have to wonder how much they believe in the “sanctity of life” – and how much it’s a convenient catchphrase for getting what they want.

[1] Mind you, the leader in eugenics at that time was the United States.
[2] I’m explicitly avoiding covering abortion, birth control, etc. Those are separate issues, and should be treated separately. At least, if you are actually concerned about the sanctity of life.
[3] It’s even easier to see this when you go outside the industrialized west. Simply providing mosquito nets and clean drinking water alone would prevent millions of deaths a year.