Jewish Law and Health Care
Many Jewish groups have been speaking out about the current debate surrounding health care reform, with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism even setting up a separate web site, Jews for Health Care Reform. Usually I believe that Judaism never comes down on one side of a public policy debate, rather it demands certain behaviors and the upholding of values, but whether these necessitate a specific political platform is often unclear. The demands that Jewish law places on a Jewish community in relation to its members might not translate into a call for civil legislation. For example, Judaism definitely holds charity and help for the poor to be a supreme value and goal, but how does this necessarily translate into politics and government. Someone who supports a minimalist version of government help to the needy may claim that from a macro standpoint they think that this is the best way to help the poor. A recent example of how a movement might be able to agree on the long-term goals, but disagrees on how to get there is the discussion within the Conservative movement about living wage legislation. There have been a number of interesting posts recently which have argued that Jewish law and ethics may actually require that one support universal health care. Whether support for universal health care necessarily equals support for the current health care reform is another question. Here are some of them:
1. Elliot Dorff, Why We Must Support Universal Health Care
2. Shmuly Yanklowitz, The Health-Care Battle: A Jewish Issue? (warning: the HTML is messed up on this page)
3. Brad Hirschfield, The Jewish Source for Universal Health Care
There are two scholarly articles on this question which look very interesting. I haven’t read them, so I can’t comment on them.
1. Aaron L. Mackler, Judaism, Justice, and Access to Health Care, Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal – Volume 1, Number 2, June 1991, pp. 143-161
2. Noam Zohar, A Jewish Perspective on Access to Healthcare, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics (1998), 7, 260-265.