The Relative Comment

soothing waves of relativity

God vs. Health Care Reform.

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Relative to: A lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new health care law based on its infringement on those who deny health care for the sake of God’s healing power.

This is very interesting. The most compelling argument yet that I have encountered against the mandate to buy health care in the US comes from a lawsuit put forth by the American Center for Law and Justice (Pat Roberstson founded). The suit argues on behalf of five individuals who can afford health care but do not purchase it because , as one plaintiff put it, “doing so would indicate they need ‘a backup plan and (are) not really sure whether God will, in fact, provide.'” Three plaintiffs in the suit uphold this notion of God alone as doctor. The two other plaintiffs believe in holistic medicine, and treatments often not covered by insurance in the first place. All five stated their intention to pay the fine rather than purchase mandated health care coverage, which is their right.

How can one argue with this? The Commerce Clause is pretty strong, and in my opinion will result in the health care law being upheld by the Supreme Court when it gets there, but only against terrestrial arguments such as interstate commerce, prior federal mandate requirements, etc. Not to mention, I believe the law has a lot of good in it, and when the nation finds out about the good it contains, they will be loathe to see it repealed. But these things can be argued. We can disagree about what is protected by the Commerce Clause.

But how can I argue against the right of an individual to deny the purchase of a service because they believe that God provides that service better? That I do not believe in such a God is of little consequence, I imagine. That if there were a God I would likely think s/he would tell these people, yes, I am healing you through the doctors I put on earth so if you have insurance that would be a lot cheaper, also doesn’t likely have much weight in such an argument.

Is there a way to overcome such a dispute? This is a sincere question, because I would like to know: where is the common ground here, when religion argues against federal policy? Framing constitutional arguments around a religious belief, well, muddies the waters. It is fascinating that such philosophical disputes make it to our court system, and that is a sign of something good. They also make good political and religious theater and provide bloggers and talking heads content for their nightly reading.

At the end of the day,  I think such arguments are  naive. This is not to question the faith of these individuals, but to challenge that, when, one day out of the blue, you have a loved one on the table, it might be a lot harder to say: do nothing, God will heal. As the judge in the case, Gladys Kessler, put it: “Individuals like plaintiffs who allege now that they will refuse medical services in the future may well find their way into the health care market when they face the reality of illness or injury.”


Written by Christopher ZF

February 23, 2011 at 00:08

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