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Health Care: David Klinghoffer's conservatives will make you sick

Health Care: David Klinghoffer's conservatives will make you sick

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Published by Larry Yudelson
A rebuttal of David Klinghoffer's conservative polemic that providing health care to people is against God's will.
A rebuttal of David Klinghoffer's conservative polemic that providing health care to people is against God's will.

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Published by: Larry Yudelson on Sep 13, 2011
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09/22/2013

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9
Health Care: Conservatives Will Make You Sick
abbi Israel Salanter, the great 19th century Jewish moralist, usedto describe the dierence between a
Tzadik
, a righteous man, anda
Rasha
, a wicked man, as ollows: A
Tzadik
worries about his own souland his neighbor’s body. A
Rasha
is concerned about his own body andhis neighbor’s soul.In that case, Klinghoer, who seems to worry a good deal moreabout his ellow citizen’s souls than about their bodies, is not a righteousman. We’ve seen his concern or their souls—or their true “empower-ment” as wives and mothers, or preserving the “purity” o their mar-riages. Tis well being, as we’ve seen, is more important than their right tomake their own choices. (Klinghoer strikes a similar tone in his chap-ter on censorship, later in the book).
 
96Larry Yudelson / How Would God REALLY Vote
But when it comes to the bodies o his ellow Americans, he is muchless concerned. We’ll see this when we discuss his “pro-choice” stance on smokingtobacco. And we see it most strongly in his chapter on health care. o put it bluntly: Klinghoer wants to protect your right to not havehealth insurance.His conservative case against reorm in health care policy is nothinglike one o those debates during a Democratic primary, where compli-cated calculations and projections are tossed back and orth, and alter-nate economic orecasting models make competing claims, and deci-sions are weighed between dierent groups who stand to gain or losebased on the details o a policy change.
His
case is much simpler.He cherishes your right to be sick.Now, i you’re suering a horrible disease, and are unable to treat itproperly because you lack health insurance and adequate health care, you might not be overly impressed that Klinghoer has not one but
two
 reasons or supporting your present state.I’ll review them. But beore I do, I want to review the Jewish law onthe topic, as interpreted by one o the leading Orthodox authorities on Jewish medical law. Tis is one o the ew cases where I will be present-ing orah commandments that actually 
can
be ulflled in the privacy o the voting booth.According to Rabbi Moshe endler, who has trained generations o rabbis at Yeshiva University, there are three biblical commandmentsthat obligate us with regard to healing. ʛTe frst commandment is the verse used by the almud to jus-tiy the practice o medicine: “
urapo yirapeh
—to heal you shallheal.” (Exodus 21: 19) Literally, this means, “he shall surely behealed,” but the almud reads the double verb as a positive ob-ligation to heal the sick. Te doctor has the obligation to healpeople, but people also have an obligation to go to the doctor.For those who say, “God will heal me,” the almud is saying that you can’t go to the “rue Doctor” (God) unless you go to the
 
97Health Care: Conservatives Will Make You Sick
earthly doctor frst! ʛTe second commandment comes rom Deuteronomy 22:2:“And i thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or i thou know himnot, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shallbe with thee until thy brother seek ater it, and thou shalt restoreit to him again.” (Te almud reasons that i we have an obli-gation to restore a person’s lost property, we certainly have anobligation to restore his lost health.) ʛTe third commandment comes rom Leviticus (19:16): “
lota’amod al dam re’echa” 
—do not stand on your brother’s blood.”It is not enough to “do no harm”; we are commanded to actively help. aken together, says Rabbi endler, these speak not only to an ob-ligation upon a doctor to heal, but upon society as well. Tere is a col-lective responsibility to restore our brother’s lost health, and to makecertain that we do not stand idly by while he dies.In other words: health care is a societal responsibility—certainly in Jewish discourse.Beore commencing analysis o a almudic discussion, one o my teachers at Yeshiva University used to say, “Put on your diving suit! We’re going deep.”Alas, as we prepare to wade through Klinghoer’s muddy argumentsconcerning health care, we are clearly not swimming in the sea o al-mud.Here’s a paragraph o Klinghoer:Mandating what seems to be common sense (mak-ing sure you have health coverage), and precluding theindividual’s reedom to take his chances i he preers,places “universal health care” on the list o those otherliberal political notions that oreclose ree choice andmoral responsibility. We saw earlier that John Edwardsincludes in his vision o universal coverage the require-ment that Americans consult a doctor regularly. Te

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