Pope: Heath Care Access a Right, Not Abortion or Euthanasia

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 18, 2010   |   5:36PM   |   Washington, DC

In a message at a health care conference read for the Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church leader said access to health care is a right but not abortion, euthanasia or other practices destroying human life.

The Pontiff said nations have a moral responsibility to guarantee access to health care for all citizens, calling medical treatment one of the “inalienable rights.”

“The care of man, his transcendent dignity and his inalienable rights” should concern Catholics and non-Catholics alike, he said, because one’s health is a “precious asset.”

But Pope Benedict cautioned that good health care does not include practices that destroy human life like euthanasia, or artificial reproductive techniques that destroy human life like human cloning of in-vitro fertilization that involves the destruction of human embryos.

Thus, medical workers and nations ought to protect human life from conception until natural death, he said, saying countries should protect the “transcendent dignity and inalienable rights of the human being,” according to Vatican Radio.

“Unfortunately, alongside positive and encouraging results, there are opinions and ways of thinking that wound,” when it comes to health care and treatment he said, referring to issues “related to the so-called “reproductive health.”

“The love of justice, the protection of life from conception to natural death, respect for the dignity of every human being should be sustained and witnessed, even against the tide,” he said. “These core ethical values are the common heritage of universal morality and the basis of democratic society.”

The comments come on the heels of a major battle in the United States that forced the Catholic bishops to oppose a bill that would reportedly expand access to health care because it did not cut off abortion funding, protect the conscience rights of medical workers, and would promote rationing.

The Catholic News Service indicated Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, read the Pope’s message to participants at the 25th International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.