Catholic discussion of health care begins with the Catholic teaching that health care is a basic human right. As the U.S. Bishops recently explained, “The first right of the human person, the right to life, entails a right to the means for the proper development of life, such as adequate health care.” The key enunciation of this right was made in 1963 when Blessed Pope John XXIII articulated human rights that are “universal and inviolable, and therefore altogether inalienable.” This right is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The U.S. Bishops explained its foundations as follows:

This right flows from the sanctity of human life and the dignity that belongs to all human persons, who are made in the image of God. It implies that access to health care which is necessary and suitable for the proper development and maintenance of life must be provided for all people, regardless of economic, social and legal status. Special attention should be given to meeting the basic health care needs of the poor.

The basic right, then, is derived from human life and dignity.

In 1981, to protect and promote this right, the U.S. Bishops called for a national health insurance program...

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