By David Underhill –
MOBILE, Ala. – The fetus is the new Jerusalem.
Medieval crusaders fancied they were on a divine mission when they marched toward the Holy City to save it from the Muslim infestation. The sanctity of this quest gave them permission to do whatever advanced toward the goal. Rape and plunder propelled the journeys, and many became so diverted by these activities that they never got to Jerusalem.
Now American successors to the crusaders march under the banner of the Sacred Unborn. Their professed devotion to the innocent, defenseless fetus excuses whatever they do that might otherwise seem faithless, even fiendish. The crusade against abortion certifies them as godly and moral, making all their other dubious activities trivial in comparison.
This explains why their apparently contradictory (not to say hypocritical) behavior isn’t really contradictory – not to them anyway. The common charge against them is that they revere life in the womb but upon birth it loses their protection. Abortion is murder while the death of newborns in poor families denied medical services is not. Lawmakers (and their supporters) who refused to fund these services don’t notice the contradiction. Their eyes are prayerfully closed and their conscience clear because of their fervent devotion to the unborn – like the crusaders who stripped Constantinople of its treasures and staggered home with their burden of loot swearing they had really intended to press onward and save Jerusalem, yes really.
Thanks to such acrobatic ethics the right-to-lifers who rule the Alabama legislature can casually pass a budget condemning kidney patients to death. It hacks so much money from blood dialysis for people with failing kidneys that most of the state’s outpatient treatment clinics will close. The only alternative will be hospital dialysis, and this will either overwhelm the hospitals, or be too expensive for many patients to afford, or both. Within a week or two somebody who needs dialysis but doesn’t get it will die.
This is the most quickly deadly part of the budget. Other parts will kill drip by drip, especially through shrinking various treatments for children and elderly.
The legislators did these things in defiance of the governor, who objected to the cuts in the budget they’d passed, and he vetoed it. So they voted to override his veto. But that did not make him a healthcare hero. He had previously refused billions of federal dollars available to the state for medical services under Obamacare. This too killed citizens, probably thousands of them.
Lifers’ Death Wish
Having performed these maneuvers, the legislature then decided to hold a committee hearing about them. After listening to medical bureaucrats catalog the state’s financial woes, the committee chairman, senator Trip Pittman a Republican representing suburbs and beaches across the bay from Mobile, revealed the right-to-lifers’ death wish.
The legislature will not alter the budget, he said. There will be neither tax increases nor transfers from other programs to remedy the shortages for medical care. The consequences will be dire, some deadly. “These impacts have to be felt,” he explained, “and then people will react to what ultimately happens.” But he already knows his reaction:
“We all have to come to grips with our mortality. It’s just a fact of life…We all die sometime, we’re all mortal, we all have a finite period of time on this earth. I think sometimes we confuse saving lives with extending lives.”
Trying to extend this finite time beyond its proper end is a waste of resources – if those resources are government ones acquired by taxation. That’s why senator Pittman agreed with the governor’s refusal of the Obamacare billions. If the state had accepted that federal money “the problem is the enrollment goes up,” he said, and this would force the state to spend some additional money on these new patients, perhaps hundreds of thousands of them.
But they wouldn’t enroll unless they need medical services. It’s better, he believes, to save money by keeping them off the rolls than to extend their “finite period of time on this earth” by giving them access to care.
This is preferable, the senator said, to rationing – by which he apparently meant the state spending whatever medical money it has for whoever needs whatever service, until the money runs out, and then providing no service to whoever remains in need. Or perhaps he meant funding treatment for certain ailments but ignoring others.
Either way, some folks would get medical help and some would not, and that’s intolerable because it’s rationing. But it doesn’t trouble the senator (nor his colleagues) that rationing is already normal practice.
And he knows this, which he shows by fretting over the big enrollment boost that the Obamacare billions would bring. This boost comes from citizens now outside the healthcare system and getting little or no care, mostly because they can’t afford it. That’s rationing.
This form of rationing is tolerable for the senator because it is done by money, not by government. And there is the key to understanding what happened in the Alabama legislature (among many others).
That body is under the hypnotic spell of an ideology that grants wealth any privileges and latitudes it desires and that curbs attempts by public agencies, acting on behalf of those who have less, to restrain these excesses. The Biblical name for this would be the rule of Mammon.
No, the fetus isn’t the right-to-lifers’ true focus of devotion – Mammon is – just as the ancient crusaders were aiming for Constantinople and its decaying Roman riches to seize. That was the real prize. The vision of imperiled holy Jerusalem awaiting rescue beyond the horizon was the cover story for plunder.
© 2016, David Underhill. All rights reserved.