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We stop and care for the sick and wounded

Connecticut is considering a law which would no longer allow medical providers to deny a patient reproductive health care based on a religious objection. This law is being advocated by Reproductive Rights Caucus and Reproductive Equity Now. Essentially, it would force every hospital and clinic to provide abortions or, at least, referrals for abortions and other reproductive health issues. The law would also open the door to assisted suicide under the same venue.

Charity Hospital, in the United States was staffed in 1727 by the Ursuline Sisters in New Orleans. In 1843, six Sisters of Mercy began Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh to meet the needs of immigrants. During the Civil War, 20% of all the battlefield nurses were Catholic sisters. It was their service which prompted President Lincoln to promise the Sisters of Mercy perpetual protection in the United States.

Today almost 16% of all the hospitals in the United States are under Catholic health care providers. One in six hospital beds are in Catholic institutions, which carry a disproportionate number of the poor and uninsured. In 1919, it was the Catholic bishops who called for universal health care for all Americans.

World-wide, the Catholic Church is the largest non-government provider of health care services. The Church runs 18,000 clinics, 16,000 homes for the elderly and persons with special needs, 5,500 hospitals. 65% of these are in poorer countries. Catholics manage 26% of health facilities in the world.

Jesus Christ sent out his disciples to preach the good news to all people, to heal the sick and announce the reign of God in their midst. The poorest and most needy were always the primary ones Jesus served; and he taught us to do the same. We will be judged on whether we fed the poor, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, and visited the sick and imprisoned.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the strongest rebukes of false religion that ignores the suffering under the guise of religious practices. Jesus is clear that his desire is that we stop and care for the sick and wounded. This is the mission of every Christian and thus of Catholic Health Care Providers. They foster life not advocate for death of either the unborn or the terminally ill.

Catholic health services cannot be who they are without unequivocally standing for life in every aspect. The legal proposal in Connecticut is a sign of a culture that shows little value for human life. We spend billions on war and fail to provide affordable health care to so many.