Archbishop Chaput Says No “Common Ground” in Health Care Proposals

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput is speaking out about the government’s misuse of the Catholic concept of common ground, saying that using this label to describe any health care proposal that includes abortion “a lie.”

In his weekly column for Denver’s Catholic Register, Archbishop Chaput says “No system that allows or helps fund – no matter how subtly or indirectly – the killing of unborn children, or discrimination against the elderly and persons with special needs, can bill itself as ‘common ground,’” he wrote. “Doing so is a lie.”

He references an e-mail he received from a young couple whose second child was born with Down syndrome. In it, the mother says her special daughter, Magdalena “consumes’ a lot of health care.” In addition to regular testing for a variety of diseases, she often has mysterious symptoms that require several tests or doctor visits to determine the cause.

“On paper, maybe these procedures and visits seem excessive. She is, after all, only 3 years old. We worry that more bureaucrats in the decision chain will increase the likelihood that someone, somewhere, will say, “Is all of this really necessary? After all, what is the marginal benefit to society for treating this person?”

She goes on to say that “A government option sounds dangerous to us. The worst case scenario revolves around someone in Washington making decisions about Magdalena’s health care; or, worse yet, a group of people – – – perhaps made up of the same types of people who urged us to abort her in the first place.”

The mother is particularly concerned about her daughter because of the President’s derisive off-hand remark on a late-night talk show about the special Olympics.

Archbishop Chaput says that what is most striking about the young mother’s e-mail is the parental distrust behind her words. “I’ve heard from enough intelligent, worried parents of children with special needs here in Colorado to know that many feel the current health care proposals pressed by Washington are troubling and untrustworthy.”

He goes on to say that health care reform is vital and exactly what U.S. bishops have been supporting so vigorously for decades. “But fast-tracking a flawed, complex effort this fall, in the face of so many growing and serious concerns, is bad policy. It’s not only imprudent; it’s also dangerous.”

If Congress and the White house really want to serve the health care needs of Americans, “they need to slow down, listen to people’s concerns more honestly – and learn what the ‘common good’ really means.”

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