Yes, Medicaid Cuts and Caps Are a Pro-Life Issue

The above link is to a column in the Washington Post by Preston Yancey, the father of a disabled child who fears that medical services for his child may be curtailed if the House version of healthcare becomes law. Yancey is pro-life, but he takes other pro-lifers to task for supporting cuts to and caps on Medicaid, suggesting that their support for such is inconsistent with pro-life principles. In short: pro-life means more than simply “pro-birth.” It means caring for the lives of others, including the quality of their lives, after they’re born.

Yancey makes some good points. And, in point of fact, I agree with him that cuts and caps to Medicaid are not a good thing.  Donald Trump promised that there would be no cuts to Medicaid when he ran for president.

It should be made clear that the House version of healthcare reform is exactly that: the House version. It is not anywhere close to becoming the law of the land, and most prognosticators doubt it will. The Senate, for it’s part, has indicated it has no use for the House version and intends to start from “GO” in formulating it’s own version of healthcare reform. Something certainly needs to be done. Obamacare is a mess. I’m not hopeful of the prospects for government control of healthcare, but that line has been crossed and there’s little hope of going back.

Having said all of that, there are some concerns about Yancey’s article.  Specifically, he comes too close, I think, to conflating opposition to abortion with opposition to cuts and caps on Medicaid. The two are not equal. Abortion is a crime against God and humanity. It is the willful destruction of innocent human life. Prudence has no part to play in the decision over whether or not to procure an abortion, because the circumstances that justify abortion do not exist. It is intrinsically evil.

Yet, regardless of how uncaring and unjust a use of resources cuts and caps in Medicaid may seem (especially in light of considerable increases in military spending), it is emphatically not an intrinsic evil to cut and cap Medicaid benefits. There are a limited amount of resources available, even to the federal government, and we are in loads of debt. Prudence plays a part in how those resources should be distributed. We can certainly disagree on how those resources should be distributed, and it so happens that I likely agree more with Yancey on how those resources should be distributed than I do with the House version of healthcare reform. But, to say that cuts and caps in Medicaid are the same as abortion is to play a game of moral equivalency that cannot be justified.

It may be that those who oppose abortion and support cuts and caps to Medicaid do so because they truly believe that people only matter when they’re in utero. But, I doubt it. In all my years of involvement in the pro-life movement, I’ve never met those “pro-birth” people the pro-abortionists are always talking about. Most pro-lifers who support cuts and caps on Medicaid, and by no means do all support such, likely do so because they genuinely believe it is a responsible, prudent use of limited resources. Yancey can disagree with them and so can I. I don’t think it’s fair or fruitful, however, to imply hypocrisy on their part, however, because we disagree. Playing the “I’m more pro-life than you!” game accomplishes nothing.

Having said that, now, let me encourage all of my pro-life confreres to write their Senators and Representatives and Trump, too, and tell them that whatever healthcare reform is enacted, it ought to include Trump’s promise not to cut Medicaid. We will be judged as a society on how we care for the least among us, and cuts and caps to Medicaid cannot be justified, in my mind, when there seems to be plenty of money for increases in military spending. We can do better. We ought to do better. We owe it to each other to do better. Medicaid cuts and caps may be subject to prudential judgment, but this is a pro-life issue, and we need to make it clear that caring for the least among us includes those struggling with disabilities and chronic medical conditions.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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