Back in 2006, then-Rep. Barb Goodwin did an interview with Marie Castle, Communications Director for Atheists for Human Rights, that appears on the Atheists For Human Rights website. The link will open the 23-minute interview in your media player. If you'd prefer to read a transcript, you can read it here.
In the previous post, then Rep. Barb Goodwin, now a candidate for the State Senate in District 50, and Marie Castle discussed why, in their view, it is actually more humane to remove a feeding tube and dehydration from certain patients in critical condition, along with the ethics of pharmacists and the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL). As we pick up the conversation (at about the 17:30 mark on the video), Castle and Goodwin share their views concerning what goes on in a Catholic hospital:
Castle: We could go in for, uh Catholic hospitals too, where they deny uh, certain services to people because it has to conform to uh, Catholic doctrine, and that includes the end of life care, and uh, there’s a lot of that where they just think uh, they have this theological position where they just think that suffering is good for your soul. Well, if you don’t believe you’ve got a soul, or if you don’t believe it’s supposed to suffer, why should you suffer because of somebody else’s religious beliefs?
But they have this thing about, uh the meritorious nature of suffering, and that only God can decide when you’re going to die. And uh, well, then, medical care just keeps you alive – you shouldn’t have medical care? So uh, there’s all that and uh, it really conflicts with reality, that the reality is that people suffer and we have to stop people from suffering and that we have to relieve it and we don’t make it worse.
Goodwin: Right, exactly —
Castle: And they’re making it worse.
Goodwin: They’re making it worse.
A few comments are in order. First, I'm unaware of Catholic hospitals deciding to not provide medication that would relieve suffering. Catholic hospitals are foursquare against abortion, but that would be the only "service" a Catholic hospital would typically avoid.
Second, Castle seems to think that the Catholic view on the meritorious nature of suffering somehow means that the Church, through its hospitals, would want its patients to suffer. This is absurd on its face. Any hospital that acted in such a manner would be out of business. You sense that Goodwin knows this set of assertions is a problem, but is too polite to mention it, so she changes the subject back to a more conventional problem, what "they" (presumably nasty Republicans) are doing:
Goodwin: They’re making it worse. Because on the same token, last year they tried to cut 40,000 people off health care – Minnesotans – this uh, uh, isn’t an immigrant population, this is uh, working Minnesotans who have Minnesota Care and pay a premium to have that – they’re not getting it for free. It’s not government sponsored, it’s sponsored by a provider tax and it’s sponsored by their own premiums, their own premiums. They tried to cut 30, uh, they tried to cut 40,000 off last year – they managed to cut 38,000 off the year before, so that’s almost 80,000 people that would lose health care entirely. And we managed to fight off – Democrats managed to fight off the cuts last year and now we have work through to try and reinstate some of the cuts because we’re finding out that it costs a lot more to eliminate that, uh that, because then you end up with a lot more people in the emergency room, you end up with more uncompensated care in the hospital, Hennepin County, I don’t want to, but I think Hennepin County Hospital had something in the neighborhood of $20 million in uncompensated care. That just gets passed down to the people that do have insurance – nobody’s eating those costs except the public. The public is eating those costs. And so you’ve got people without health care, and you’ve got the rest of us, who, our health care has become so expensive that a lot of people can’t afford to pay the premiums.
Now, remember that this discussion was taking in place in 2006, and since that time the DFL has used its control of the legislature to solve all of these problems, or perhaps not. But since the matter of saving costs is now the topic of conversation, Castle offers a solution. This discussion begins at about the 19:40 mark:
Castle: And then they were, then they were trying to, I think there’s a bill somewhere in the Legislature to stop, to rescind the state law that the state has to pay for abortions as well as child care, uh child birth, that if they have to pay for child birth they have to pay for abortion care, so they’re trying to change that.
Goodwin: Well uh, that—
Castle: So what that does is that it increases the number of births and then that increases the number of welfare cases – they don’t want anybody on welfare, but they’re guaranteed to have that.
Goodwin: But they don’t want to provide anything for those in the most need if they do carry their child—
Castle: Oh, they’ll give them some diapers.
Castle: They’ll give them some formula, too—
Goodwin: If they do, I don’t even know where they do that.
Castle: I mean, you talk about, for 18 years you’re raising a child.
Castle: At least 18.
Well, if it were a certainty that a child born to a mother on welfare was going to remain on welfare for the next 18 years, it certainly would be more "cost-effective" to abort the child. It would save money, no doubt. The underlying assumption is this: the child, and its mother, will remain infants, or rather infantilized, for 18 years or more. There's no chance that the mother would ever find a way to raise the child on her own, or that a father might take responsibility for the child. There would be no possibility that these individuals could ever be anything other than wards of the state.
That's not a fait accompli, though. Many children born in poverty or other problematic circumstances find their way in the world and accomplish great things. A certain baby born in Hawaii in 1961 springs to mind. But we'll leave that aside for now.
Goodwin and Castle, ever cost-conscious, continue to discuss the matter:
Goodwin: Well, and uh, the problem with that bill is uh, that already was tried in Minnesota and was uh, the courts ruled it unconstitutional. So they couldn’t do that and yet uh, they’re trying it again and they know they’re facing another court challenge. And so they’re putting this like uh, South Dakota, did with their uh, basically no choice bill that they had and, uh, now they’re putting it up and uh, the people of South Dakota are going to have to pay for it all the way up to the Supreme Court, and the people of Minnesota are going to have to pay for these bad decisions when they know that once again, it’s going to be ruled unconstitutional. The constitution hasn’t changed.
Castle: And, uh, the people when they go and vote think that, well, uh, I’m never going to have an abortion or I don’t have this problem and this or that, and so it doesn’t affect them directly or personally. And uh, I’ve got a living will and all that, so they don’t consider that when they vote. They don’t realize that they have to pick up the costs of all that.
Goodwin: Absolutely. And the same is true of the starvation and dehydration bill. If you’re going to make people have feeding tubes and hydration way past the point where their body will, uh, easily accept it, you’re going to again cause huge costs to the system and again, you’re trying to take away basic health care. Some of those same people that you want to keep on a feeding tube, and hydration, long past the time when their body is uh, willing to accept it. So, uh, so it’s so convoluted that it doesn’t, that there’s no, there’s no ideology there that’s constant, that’s connected.
Emphasis mine. Goodwin's assertion about the constitutionality of abortion is true, for the moment at least. As for the rest of this discussion -- it's worth considering what's being proposed in light of the federal legislation that was passed earlier this year. There's a pretty big breach between the notion of family control in the Schiavo case and the idea that Goodwin proffers, that keeping someone alive via a feeding tube is not cost-effective. Can you place a monetary value on human life? And is Goodwin's idea of when the body is willing to accept a feeding tube the right one?
If you want to understand why so many conservatives, social and fiscal, opposed Obamacare, this portion of the discussion explains it. Earlier in the video, Goodwin asserts that she doesn't want people making decisions about her life, but she seems utterly blithe about the notion that she and her colleagues might make decisions about other people's lives. And then she decries the convoluted ideology of those who would oppose her.
Castle has an explanation for this convoluted behavior of critics, which she discusses with Goodwin as the video concludes:
Castle: However, there is a theology. It all goes back to their basic religious beliefs that they don’t talk about publicly because, frankly, I think they’d be laughed at, about the ensoulment, and about the merits of suffering and a few things like that, and their views about sex and who can have it and when and under what conditions and all that, so there’s a whole theological justification for that.
Goodwin: That’s true.
Yep -- ensoulment is ludicrious if you don't accept the idea of a soul, as an atheist like Castle might not. But a politician rejects that notion at his or her peril, especially a politician who lives in a senate district with a lot of Christians. But there you go. Castle and Goodwin conclude their discussion as follows:
Castle: And so that’s why they need their so-called secular justifications to get it past the public.
Goodwin: You’re right.
Castle: And so it doesn’t work. But so, and, well,thanks for being with us and talking about this, a really important subject.
Goodwin: It is—
Castle: And I hope that the general public pays a little more attention to what their legislators are doing, because whether it affects you personally, it’s going to affect you financially for sure.
On this last point, I agree wholeheartedly. The public should be paying attention to what their legislators, or would-be legislators, are doing. That is why I've posted the information here.