By Ian Millhiser on Feb 23, 2012 at 11:30 am
As further proof that conservative efforts to paint President Obama as the enemy of religion are a red herring, nearly two dozen leading Catholic nuns filed a brief in the Supreme Court last week supporting the president’s signature legislative accomplishment. The Catholic sisters who joined the brief include the leaders of many prominent religious orders providing health care and other services to the needy. As they explain in their brief:
Amici curiae represent the leadership of Catholic women’s religious orders from across the United States. Amici and the orders they serve have a long history of public service in healthcare in America dating back to the 1700s. These services include founding hospitals and free clinics and providing free healthcare to the underprivileged and uninsured. The work by Amici gives them a unique perspective on the unmet healthcare needs of the poor, as well as on the positive impact that will result from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (“ACA” or the “Act”). . . .
Amici have witnessed firsthand the national crisis that prompted Congress to pass the ACA. In particular, Amici have seen the devastating impact of the lack of affordable health insurance and healthcare on women, children, and other vulnerable members of society.
Amici believe that a civilized society must ensure the provision of basic healthcare to its citizens regardless of their ability to pay for it. They further believe it is a moral imperative that all levels of government institute programs that ensure the poor receive such care. They believe Medicaid expansion under the Act is critical to the communities they serve.
These nuns have unique stature to explain why their support for the Affordable Care Act flows from their faith, given that so many of them have devoted their lives to providing care to those most in need. Nevertheless, their views are hardly unique within their church’s hierarchy. Pope Benedict XVI called health care an “inalienable right,” and added that it is the “moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens.”