The Obamacare Ruling and Religious Liberty

Forty-five thousand Americans die each year because they lack access to health care. Fifty-three million Americans lack health insurance. In the richest nation in the world, the fact that people die because they cannot afford health care is unconscionable. That proposition itself is easy enough to accept. How to address the problem has always been the rub.

After years of failed efforts to enact national health care reform and piecemeal federal efforts to band-aid particular gaps, Congress enacted comprehensive health care reform in 2010—the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The act was no model of perfection and reflected a number of compromises, but it was a major step forward in addressing the need to provide access to affordable health care for all Americans.

Complex and controversial, the act was challenged almost immediately. The focus of opposition was the act’s requirement that all individual purchase health insurance (the “individual mandate”), although there were many seeking to overturn the statute in its entirety.

This morning, in a decision awaited with more anticipation and attention than any other I can remember, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate by a 5-4 vote, with Chief Justice Roberts providing the key swing vote.

From the Commerce Clause to the Taxing Authority

Although much of the discussion of the individual mandate had focused on Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause, it was Congress’ taxing authority that convinced Justice Roberts of Congress’ power to mandate that individuals purchase insurance. The act provides that those who fail to comply with the mandate must make a “shared responsibility payment” to the federal government, a “penalty” to be “assessed and collected in the same manner” as tax penalties. Writing for the majority Justice Roberts wrote, “[o]ur precedent demonstrates that Congress had the power to impose the [individual mandate] under the taxing power, and [the mandate] need not be read to do more than impose a tax. This is sufficient to sustain it.” He made clear that individuals may choose to pay the tax in lieu of purchasing insurance. In a concurring opinion, Justice Ginsberg, writing on behalf of herself and for Justices Sotormayor, Breyer, and Kagan, indicated that she would uphold the mandate under the Commerce Clause.

With the survival of the individual mandate, major provisions of the act, a number of which found support even among those who opposed the individual mandate, remain in place. These include the act’s requirements that plans may no longer put lifetime limits on essential health benefits or impose limits on pre-existing coverage and must provide for coverage for adult children until age 26.

The act did not survive completely intact, however. In a 7-2 decision, the Court struck down the provision of the act forcing states to expand their Medicaid coverage to the poor. It ruled that the federal government lacks the power to terminate Medicaid funds to state who do not wish to expand. However, the Court left open to states the ability to opt into an expanded Medicaid program. It wrote, “[n]othing in our opinion precludes Congress from offering funds under the ACA to expand the availability of health care, and requiring that states accepting such funds comply with the conditions on their use. What Congress is not free to do is to penalize States that choose not to participate in that new program by taking away their existing Medicaid funding.”

Today’s decision upholding the individual mandate is an enormous victory for President Obama. However, the decision is not likely to end of the battle. Foes of the individual mandate will be gearing up in the hope that the November election leads to enough additional Republican for Congress to repeal the act. In addition, there has been a lot of infighting at the state level over implementation, particularly the establishment at the state level of exchanges through which people buying insurance can get coverage. Many states have refrained from moving forward with the exchanges, waiting for today’s decision. It would not be surprising to see the federal government having to step in to manage efforts in cases where the states drag their feet.

Reigniting the HHS Mandate Controversy

The Court’s decision to uphold the act means that the controversy over the requirement that employers provide contraception coverage for their employees remains a live one. Regulations enacted by HHS pursuant to the act require that contraception coverage be provided at no cost to individuals. The Catholic Church and other religious institutions have objected that the failure to exempt from the requirement those with religious objections to contraception constitutes a violation of religious freedom. (The regulations do contain an exemption for religious employers, but it is a very narrow one.) Whether the Obama administration can come up with a compromise position that satisfies those with religious objections remains to be seen. In the absence of such a solution, Catholic hospitals, universities, and other entities will have to decide how to respond to the contraception mandate. Litigation has already been brought; how it will be resolved is an open question.

Responding to this morning’s decision, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement that concluded, “The decision of the Supreme Court neither diminishes the moral imperative to ensure decent health care for all, nor eliminates the need to correct the fundamental flaws described above. We therefore continue to urge Congress to pass, and the Administration to sign, legislation to fix those flaws.”

Outside of the health care area, today’s decision may also be construed as a blow to Congress’ authority under the Commerce Clause. Justice Roberts’s opinion for the Court held that the individual mandate is not a valid exercise of Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause and Necessary and Proper Clause. In his view, the power to regulate presupposes the existence of commercial activity to be regulated and to allow regulation in the absence of activity would grant too much power to Congress. It remains to be seen how much of a limit today’s decision will impose on Congress’ authority to enact social welfare laws, but it assuredly will have some.

  • Derek

    People do NOT die because they lack access to health care. People die because they are deathly ill or mortally wounded. Also, Americans do not lack access to health care; hospitals in the U.S. are obligated by law to treat anyone who has an emergent condition.

    • D. Moore

      Many Americans do lack sufficient means of “preventative” health care. There is truth in the saying “An ounce of preventative is worth a pound of cure.”

      • Jamie S

        Ah, don’t change the subject. The article clearly states “Forty-five thousand Americans die each year because they lack access to health care” and makes no mention of “preventative care” only the care that prevents death and therefore is reasonably construed as hospital care. Derek is correct; hospitals are compelled to treat anyone who walks through the door for any reason. One would think that anyone who makes their living on the use and meaning of words such as the “distinguished chair(s)” would have a better grasp on the most basic aspect of the current healthcare law before offering comment on any new aspects of it thereby crafting a better argument; particularly those in the charge of teaching others since the opening, and foundational statistic to the article is so easily refuted.

        However, the preventative care argument is dubious at best since it cannot be shown to function in any way, shape, or form. To say that “an apple a day will add (even one day) to ones life, presupposes the knowledge when one was to die in the first place. It simply cannot be done.

        • JSD

          Jamie and Derek, you are right to point out that hospitals are obligated to treat persons that require emergency care. But what of chronically lethal diseases, transplants, and certain surgeries?

          Consider conditions such as Crohns, diabetes, cancer. These diseases are contracted by no fault of the diseased, and require extensive treatment to either resolve the disease, earn a transplant, etc. These sorts of treatments do not fall under the obligatory care you reference.

          Right now, I know at least a dozen people that are receiving treatment on their family’s insurance for chronic diseases identical or similar to those listed above. This law, flawed as it is, extends their access to their family’s health insurance, and likewise the means to receive health care, for several more priceless years.

          Certainly, preventive medicine has a role to play in this discussion, but the needed treatment once a patient has contracted the disease is really the issue.

          • Jamie S

            Yet again you change the argument. If it is the accepted position to make others pay for treatment as you seem to be putting forth, it is a slippery slope that can well be put to anything. Good health or the treatment of bad health is not a fundamental right. That you are ok with forcing others to pay for the treatment of bad health will not change this aspect.

            • D. Moore

              Jamie, I know a perso who has a job, four children, and refuses to pick up health or dental benefits. When this person or their children need care they go to the hospital for treatment. He never pays the bill (because the hospital(s) are obligated to care for his family. Ultimately, the tax payers in my area, and those of us who make financial contributions are already paying for his health care. I see nothing wrong with requiring him (or those like him) to pick up health care of be penalized on his tax return. Especially since he has no problem claiming the children so that he can collect a large refund from the state and federal government. That is my argument had I been making one.

              My comment about “preventative care” was not a subject change it was a direct response to second Derek’s statement in the light of the context of people like the one that I know mentioned above. If he had health care (being that his claim is that he can’t afford go to the doctor, there is a chance that he would go before more complicated procedures were needed. The last time he went to the hospital he had surgery that could have been avoided, which the tax payers (in my area) ended up paying for, because again he never pays his bill.

              This is one case that is not dubious at all.

            • Jamie S

              D Moore –
              I have no doubts that you do not see any issues with an ever growing and intrusive government; yet what you are describing is not to be understood as “preventative care” but treatment for health issues. That he will not pay his bills is another argument for which there are procedures and remedies already in place which address these circumstances that upon your testimony the Hospital is not pursuing. Anyway, the “I know somebody” argument is anecdotal at best anyway; I am sure most of us know some slacker or societal leech.

            • Jamie S

              to -,
              That is a very broad brush you are painting with. To what “life” are you referring vegetable, animal, human? I ask somewhat in jest but even if you limit life to human life then which human life, as even society places value to various degrees upon human life.

              Whenever society takes from one man to give to another we have all been devalued and the state becomes the arbiter and ruler of life since they determine who has and who has not. We then begin to serve the state and not our own best interests.

          • JSD

            First, my comment was directed towards a specific statement that was made: “Derek is correct; hospitals are compelled to treat anyone who walks through the door for any reason.” This statement is not accurate, given what I established in my post; it does not account for chronic, lethal diseases and procedures.

            Second, “making others pay for treatment” as principle is eerily similar to rationale under-girding basic public services. As a society, through a republic of elected officials, it is the responsibility to recognize needs and address those needs through accumulated resources. The government primarily participates by incentivizing behavior, or disincentivizing behavior.

            In the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, citizens are either (a) participating in their regular insurance, now regulated for certain functions, or (b) paying a “tax” that is designed to compensate the inevitable loss of that non-purchaser using the health care system without investing in compensatory health insurance. In this scenario, the government is attempting to disincentivize certain behavior.

            Finally, what do you consider to be a fundamental right, and how do you ultimately determine what a fundamental right is? How is it played out in public policy? What hermeneutical approach to do you utilize to come to these decisions?

            • Jamie S

              It’s pretty simple, as the Constitution states: fundamental rights proceed from God (not the government) and are inherent to the individual meaning they can only be denied. When ever the legislative process deems it necessary to deprive me of my possessions (regardless of the perceived good)I am at least being deprived of my right to my “pursuit of happiness” among other things. That society at large determines this is of no consequence. Or as Boss Spearman stated “Man’s got a right to protect his property and his life” and when the government takes anything from a man both are threatened.

            • JSD

              Jamie, you still failed to answer my question. How do you determine, precisely, what those rights actually which “come from God”? What process do you use in order to make those determinations?

              Also, the concept of rights which you convey is deeply flawed. To assume that any situation in which you are deprived in some way is a violation of your rights is to deny rights altogether. Every single right comes at the expense of another. Take freedom for example; if one is to have absolute freedom, then those within his or her interpersonal network must likewise assume a very limited freedom subordinate to the first person’s unlimited freedom.

              You see, when it comes to rights, every right contains both a reception of duty and an action of duty. You receive the right to pursue happiness, but then others have the duty to honor that choice. Of course, that’s a reciprocal idea, too; it is your duty to honor those that are in the “pursuit of happiness” as you described it above.

              Finally, you still have not explained why you are so concerned with that tax fee when you are regularly taxed for public services that are almost ways utilized disproportionately in favor of the under-privileged. Are you comfortable with the government determining it necessary to deprive you of your possessions, regardless of perceived good, in that given scenario?

            • Jamie S

              JSD –
              I disagree, I answered your question, yet it seems you do not want to recognize or at least accept it. I have a right to my life and my property (the fruit of my hands) and when either are threatened those who threaten them are in jeopardy of forfeiting their’s.

              It’s very simple, I come to your house, I respect your property and you respect my life. I steal from you and I am subject to forfeit my life or at least a portion of if in jail. There are things that are needed for the common good, i.e. roads, dams, a common defense, etc. However, if a man wants to eat a Big Mac, or smoke (or both) and die I am content to let him reap his harvest. Also if a man who is able will not work I am content to let him starve.

              Likewise, taxing more will not address the fundamental issue of runaway healthcare costs. Being in the Health Care industry I know of which I speak.

            • JSD


              The rights you’ve listed are rights most Western, individualistic citizens would ascribe to. A right to life and property are ideas that flowed from enlightenment theories on human rights, and influenced our nation’s founding directly. That being said — and, again, back to my question — how is that particular view of rights (1) exclusive of a view that includes positive rights for citizens in society (promoting the general welfare through combined contribution)and (2) determined to be valid against a theory of human rights that at least includes, if not prioritizes, quality care for and social safety nets? I respect your particular view on human rights, I’m simply trying to understand why you think that view is the only valid view, and where you believe you have attained the capacity to determine your view as such.

              Brother, I am disappointed to see you settle for reducto ad absurdium in an important conversation. It is very easy to choose persons that irresponsibly abuse themselves and the system, just as it would be easy to highlight the most needy and legitimately benefited from this law.

              Regardless of an individual’s responsibility in the matter, what disappoints me the most is what would appear to be a tone of arrogant disgust for the choices of others. Let’s be encouraged to engage in this matter with gospel-centered humility, a humility founded in a reality we share with Big-Mac eating, cigarette smoking persons — that we are All sinful and likewise unworthy. I am concerned, friend, with the reaction I see among so many brothers in Christ that have naturally slid into an appeal for “what’s theirs” and ignored the call of Christ — of the redemptive narrative — to collectively determine how we can best care for the least of these in our society. This is hardly a social justice issue; it’s a supernatural issue that men from Carl Henry to John Stott have been commending to the evangelical church throughout the 20th century.

              Let’s not allow someone’s particular public choices, especially their irresponsible ones, to disqualify them from mercy. What crueler irony is there than for grace-given people of God to lament and ridicule the failures of others? Let us instead follow the example of our merciful God, a God who modeled radical, sacrificial generosity, and who will one day establish a Kingdom built on that very value.

              Certainly, I do not reject the need for a healthy society to model self-responsibility and consequences for actions. I also do not affirm a welfare system that currently dehumanizes entire underprivileged populations by conglomerating them into large groups and and provides one-size-fits-all policy to radically different cases. What I lament, brother, is when we and believers settle for a spiritually and economic entitled attitude at the expense of grace and Kingdom focus.

            • Jamie S

              JSD –

              I clearly understand your position you want a socialized society but call it something else

              First, as a degreed student of both Theology and World Civilization I would point out that the ideas of right to life and property flow from Scripture; that the enlightenment thinkers get the credit is of no consequence. God, as the author of life, gives each of us that life to do as one wills (yet in view of the kyrios/doulos relationship this is highly arguable) and with the repudiation of Ananias and Sapphira by Peter in Acts 5, God also acknowledges property rights. This understanding was accepted and recognized by the Founding Fathers as they set out to outline the power of the Federal state. Their discourse flows as: Life and liberty flow from God and the power of the government flow from the governed i.e. “We the People” where rights are inherent and only privilege is given.

              To your questions 1) I have previously acknowledged the common good and general welfare arguments yet only as outlined in the Constitution of the United States where what is not explicitly stated as a Federal power is reserved to the States. 2) How is it my responsibility (through compulsion) to care for your parents in a “social safety net” or to even be forced to pay to set your broken bone(s). As a Christian I have compassion where God leads, yet that is not what you are referring too. Your position seems to be born not of social care as much as selfishness in that you wish to share the costs of such things. And while I agree that a cost shared is an easier burden, how is it not a violation of my right to property and therefore life to compel me to “contribute?” It would therefore seem to be your burden to prove that society is improved by letting the lazy eat at the expense of another. You see my argument is not limited to just this bill but to the entire entitlement mentality. My parents should have no claim upon your labor and that of your children, nor visa versa.

              Second, I have not retreated to a position of reducto ad absurdium; please point that one out. Yet it is relevant to these discussions that if one lives irresponsibly and then expects society at large to foot the bill that position and expectation should at the very least demonstrate why it is the morally superior position. To compel anyone to give anything for any reason is theft. Our founding fathers knew the burden a government would impose upon the land as was predicted by God at the Hebrew’s selection of Saul. That you or even a majority think its ok does not make it right (or wrong). However the make up of our country allows for this and in a Representative government we can only choose to replace our representatives, revolt, or accept it.

              I am also amazed that tone can be ascertained thought the limited medium of a blog reply not to mention my lack of humility. Yet I do agree that we should reply in all humbleness but would rather see a reply that is dedicated to Gospel accuracy. This is not a kingdom nor soteriol issue per se but a rights issue. By what right do you claim to reach in to your neighbor’s pocket and remove his property to give to a cause you deem worthy? That your neighbor does not have like compassion is a matter between him and God not you. Mind your own business.

              Third, the consequence of reaping what one sow’s is not original to me, looking closely one finds it is God’s nature of things. Yes He in His grace steps into His creation to nullify for some the penalty of sin (although it is not nullification but a double imputation) through Christ His son. It is nonetheless God who prescribes starvation to the one that will not work and when we set out to feed him we are actually disobeying God.

              Forth, I have no issue with anyone doing with their resources or property what they will; however, I take great issue with anyone who decides what I should do with mine and then attempts to apply guilt (disgust) when I do not agree.

            • JSD


              Thank you for such a detailed and thorough response. I appreciate your approach, but I do ask one request: please take the time to carefully read my response. If you noticed, I am sympathetic in some ways to your political bent. If you also noticed, the majority of my post was spent on the virtue-level issues in this conversation. I was hoping for more dialogue on that nature, but I am concerned you skipped right by those contentions.

              In order to avoid any mischaracterization, I will do my best to speak to your actual quotes below. I have abbreviated quotes for the sake of space, but I am referring to all of the content between the quotes:

              “God…and with the repudiation of Ananias and Sapphira by Peter in Acts 5, God also acknowledges property rights.”

              This is a questionable claim, at best. I’m not sure you can apply a systematic theology to the idea that property rights — in the western sense of it — can be entirely derived from a passage indirectly — if at all — related. Clearly, the burden of proof is on the proponent of an argument that would suggest western property rights can be defined and derived Properly (meaning hermeneutically honest and careful) from the incident of A&P.

              “This understanding was accepted….“We the People” where rights are inherent and only privilege is given.”

              Again, you declare the “rights” are “inherent.” Which rights? There are many rights that are claimed to be natural, true, or universal in nature, and plenty of disagreement to go around. Rights are inherent, privilege is given, but how do you determine which are which? On what thorough, consistent, applicable basis can you distinguish right from privilege?

              “1) I have previously acknowledged the common good and general welfare arguments…as a Federal power is reserved to the States.”

              In this particular law, the taxing power is a congressional power, utilized by the federal congress, in order to promote the general welfare. Now — and this where I ask that you please hear me out — I am deeply concerned that the Court seems to imply that there are almost no limitations or strict definitions on what it truly means to “promote the general welfare.” That is quite concerning to me, as are many parts of this ruling. Again, however, please note that the general welfare issue I asserted and am now discussing is adjacent to the federal taxing power.

              “How is it my responsibility (through compulsion) to care …or to even be forced to pay to set your broken bone(s)….while I agree that a cost shared is an easier burden, how is it not a violation of my right to property and therefore life to compel me to “contribute?”

              I have mentioned this several times now, and again I am concerned that you are glossing over important statements in our conversation. You have clearly asserted and remain deeply concerned that any necessary contribution on your part to the society in which you live amounts to theft by the government. What I have asked, repeatedly, is this: how do you view Any governmental tax or burden attached to citizenship? After all, a significant portion of your funding salaries your elected representative, enables police, fire, emergency, and educational services, and empowers the government to provide a national defense. Each of these services involve mandatory contributions from all citizens for the benefit of all citizens, even though — and again, please hear me — some citizens will benefit in greater proportion from those services than others. In fact, public services and the functions of government will never be applied nor received in full equity. Someone will benefit to a greater extent than another.

              That, however, is deemed by the resident citizen as an appropriate trade-off. The citizen is granted full access to the benefits of community, and likewise the community is resourced with the benefits of that citizen. This is a basic political truth. On the other hand, if the citizen evaluates his situation, and believes that it is in his best interest to avoid such compulsory payments required by his community, then (as is the case with the US) he has the right to leave that community for another that he deems to be more in line with his views on rights, liberties, and responsibility to the community.

              Bottom line: all citizens, even the least engaged, are compelled to provide minimum contribution to the general welfare of their citizen community. That takes the form of government, public services, and — now — health care reform. The question is whether or not health care deserves to be a part of that plethora of community benefits. That is a worthy conversation. You, on the other hand, seem to suggest that ANY public service that results from a compulsory tax on a citizen is de facto theft on the basis that it literally violates his inherent rights, regardless of his responsibility to contribute to the community.

              “Second, I have not retreated to a position of reducto ad absurdium; please point that one out.”

              You did take your argument to to its “absurd logical extent” by emphasizing outlier examples of the most irresponsible and least-“deserving” individuals. That is a poor argument tactic that shrouds truth and smokescreens the more substantive elements of the conversation. My point was simply to encourage you to avoid similar arguments as our conversation continued.

              “To compel anyone to give anything for any reason is theft.”

              Again, please see my comments from earlier, regarding citizenship responsibility and community.

              I am also amazed that tone can be ascertained thought the limited medium of a blog reply not to mention my lack of humility. Yet I do agree that we should reply in all humbleness but would rather see a reply that is dedicated to Gospel accuracy. This is not a kingdom nor soteriol issue per se but a rights issue. By what right do you claim to reach in to your neighbor’s pocket and remove his property to give to a cause you deem worthy? That your neighbor does not have like compassion is a matter between him and God not you. Mind your own business.

              “Yes He in His grace steps into His creation to nullify …It is nonetheless God who prescribes starvation to the one that will not work and when we set out to feed him we are actually disobeying God.”

              This is a remarkable claim, and I say that in all sincerity. You seem to propose that suffering is the direct result of sin, and that once we identify suffering — in your example, someone literally starving — we must assume that he is starving because has made an irresponsible choice, and likewise earned the wrath of God in the form of starvation.

              If you do not mean this, please clarify.

              Otherwise, I find your claim to be deeply troubling and incredibly mischaracterizing of reality. Brokenness touches every aspect of this world, including the people of God. To say that suffering is necessarily the result of God’s intentional judgment on a person for their specific sin is to ignore that countless faithful believers who suffer on a daily basis for the sake of the gospel in frontier areas where the gospel is needed most. It is to ignore the countless faithful before us and with us now, who have voluntarily given their life in a reflection of Christ’s own sacrifice. Even further, it is a complete adherence to a mindset Jesus condemns in his own disciples when they, encountering a blind man, ask Jesus who sinned to cause this man to be the way he was.

              No doubt, every human being is accountable to God for the sin they they each commit. But that does not mean that every moment of suffering they encounter is the reap of some past sin sowed. Evil exists in this world, and often is most aggressive towards those within the will of God, thus Christ’s words at the beginning of Matthew 5.

            • Jamie S


              As we seem to be getting nowhere (which is the problem with blog talk) I will reply only on a couple of points and let this be my last.

              Re. Ananias: “This is a questionable claim, at best…” how else should one view verse 4 if not an acknowledgment of property rights i.e. …did it not remain your own?” Further property rights were the foundation of the O.T. sacrificial system; that is each had to bring an offering they owned not one borrowed or stolen from their neighbor.

              “This is a remarkable claim,…” please note the Scriptural position is that if a man is able to work but will not … let him starve which I echoed. I have no issue with that as it speaks to willingness not ability. Even Ruth gleaned wheat from the field of Boaz as opposed to him taking wheat to her (now he did give her special consideration after she caught his eye).

              I am not sure I ever characterized suffering flowing only from sin; if I did I was in error. Yet as surely as night follows day (western thinking) sin reaps a reward. I can even argue it is an immediate reward in the searing of one’s conscience. You will notice though in your citing the passage of the blind man, Jesus did not say suffering did not come from sin only that this man’s blindness was not the direct result of his sin or his parents sin. However, his suffering (as well as ours) was the result of sin…. Adam’s.

              Thank you for this discourse.


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  • Michael Swart

    This is not a helpful article because it totally lacks a clear Christian assessment of the whole issue.

    How can a Christian successfully find his or her way through all the dishonesty and deception without some help from a wise person who clearly understands what is happening – someone whose chief aim in life is to glorify God and not promote self or ideological interests?

  • Andrew Bobo

    You alluded to “other religious institutions” in your article, but I just want to make clear that the HHS mandate is not an issue that concerns Catholics only, but all Christians. The drugs labeled as “contraceptives” by the administration include Plan B abortifacients, which are morally abhorrent to Protestants and Catholics alike. Employers would be required to provide access to these under the current rules.

    In a larger view, all who value religious freedom in this country should be gravely concerned by the HHS mandate. If the administration can be so insensitive to the moral concerns of Catholics (and Protestants) in this matter, we have reason to believe that even more blatant intrusions on our liberties will be sure to follow.

    You stated, “Whether the Obama administration can come up with a compromise position that satisfies those with religious objections remains to be seen.” Such a compromise was offered by HHS this March, the so-called “accommodation” rule. However, as has been said by multiple commentators (I would refer anyone interested to Al Mohler’s blog), the administration’s accommodation is little more than an accounting trick and does not address the moral issue. Your article alluded to the need for a compromise, but did not make clear that one has been offered.

    Thank you for your article on these important issues.

  • LarryG

    re: “Forty-five thousand Americans die each year because they lack access to health care. Fifty-three million Americans lack health insurance. In the richest nation in the world, the fact that people die because they cannot afford health care is unconscionable.”

    Unconscionable? Personally, I believe that statement above is horribly misguided and naive. We live on planet ‘Earth’ where sin reigns, lest anyone should have forgotten. What I feel is unconscionable is human beings attempting to usurp God’s righteousness. There is payment for sin which no utopian idealism will be able to attenuate. Society in the richest nation on the planet is in the process of endorsing homosexuality as a viable lifestyle – but wanting to treat the attendant health issues that insures! Call morbid obesity a disease and give the lucky lotto winner a monthly SSI check so they can eat pizza in bed. Call alcoholism a disease and then give the drunkard an SSI check so he can live over a bar and get a hard liver! People with mental illness who won their personal lottery via drug abuse, and of course a monthly SSI check and health care. Disease is the life and way of all mankind. To demand that someone fix another persons agenda so that they can live longer – this seems a little presumptuous to me. Who is in control, God or man – or perhaps it man wishing to be god?

    What ever happened to allowing people to act in a personally accountable manner? THAT is what is unconscionable, removing the assigned rewards for intentional acts of slow suicide. Oh, and lest you revolt at my purposeful statements above – I spent over a decade living/working in street missions in the United States of America. The two biggest detriments to these missions accomplishing anything of value for the tramps that frequent these ministries is:

    1] The bleeding heart do-gooders who rob men of their personal responsibilities.
    2] The lack of true Christlike examples. Yup, the same Christ who let the rich young ruler walk away and called a Syrophenician woman a dog! This is GOD speaking, not just some prophet rolling down the road.

    • Michael Swart


      As Christians we can so often be naive and allow our views to be formed by prevailing secular thinking rather than by grasping what is clear in the Scriptures and teaching of Jesus.

      You are spot on when you highlight the importance of personal responsibility but recognize we live in a messed up sinful world.

      I wish some Christian lawyer with a keen insight into both what was done in Congress in passing the bill and then the response of the Supreme Court would give a Biblical assessment that can guide believers to respond in a God honoring way.