In the name of Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. Unless you've been dead for the past several months, you know that the US Congress is in the midst of debating and passing a bill aimed at reforming the health care industry in America. The election of Barack Obama was a momentous occasion in American history. Regardless of your political affiliation, whether Democrat, Republican or otherwise, you can't deny the historic nature of the election of the of the first African American US president, and one of the primary campaign issues that won the support of the American people for Obama was the promise to reform health care once and for all. This issue was one of the primary reasons why I supported and voted for Barack Obama; NOT because his middle name is "Hussein" or because he had family connections to Islam as I imagine many American Muslims had as motivation for supporting him. From the Islamic perspective, it is deplorable that here in one of richest countries in the world, people can actually be thrown into financial ruin simply by getting sick. It is deplorable that people become financial slaves to insurance companies that can drop their coverage virtually at will. Without doubt, the health care system in our nation needs reform, but the sticky issue is how to do it. The bill before Congress right now is designed to do that but is it addressing the issue in the right way? I wanted to take some time to reflect upon this issue.
I'll just get this out of the way.... I do not support this current health care bill. I whole-heartily support health care reform, but in my feeling this bill either does not do what needs to be done, or does things or opens doors for things that are far worse than the current void in health care coverage for American citizens. Below I will outline a few issues that prevent me from supporting this health care bill.
A) ABORTION: Ask any biologist when life begins and they all agree that the life of a creature whether animal or human, begins at the point of fertilization of the egg with sperm, and the embryo begins the fetal development process. That is the point when the living tissue (i.e. the egg and the sperm) become distinct from the male and female participants, or in other words a separate entity. So abortion, at any stage, is the killing of a human being. Allah says in the Qur'an, "Say, 'Come and I will recite to you the what Allah has prohibited for you: Join not anything as equal with Him, be good to parents and KILL NOT YOUR CHILDREN FOR FEAR OF WANT, We provide for you and them. Approach not shameful deeds, whether open or secret. TAKE NOT LIFE which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. This He commands you, that you might learn wisdom" (Qur'an 6:151) First of all this verse clearly and completely prohibits the abortion of fetuses in situations where the mother will simply be "inconvenienced" by the pregnancy, labor, and raising the child. The pre-Islamic Arabs practiced infanticide on baby girls because of cultural ignorance. Modern day abortions is nothing less than fetus-cide. Also however, this verse also prohibits the taking of human life under any circumstance except "by way of justice and law", which would mean the execution of murderers or the fighting of defensive war for example. As it stands right now there are actually two distinct bills currently in Congress; the House bill which has already been passed, and the Senate's bill which is still being debated. In the House version, an amendment was passed that outlawed the use of federal (a.k.a. taxpayer) funds in abortion coverage. In the current Senate bill, the same type of amendment was voted down. In both cases abortion could be funded in the case of rape, incest, or when the pregnancy and birth could cause harm or even death to the mother. Now I feel as do many people of faith, that abortion should be completely illegal except in the case of rape, incest or risk to mother's health. For me personally, because of my faith in God, I wouldn't approve of abortion for my own wife or family even in these exceptions, however I recognize that not all would hold the same world-view. However at the very least, taxpayer money should not be used to fund abortions. I would be disgusted to the point of being physically ill if I knew that any of my money paid in taxes went to intentionally slaughter an innocent child. There is talk that the final compromised bill between the House and Senate may be free of this amendment, if so it is not something I can support, nor would countless other Americans.
B) INDIVIDUAL MANDATE: The bill in both houses also includes the mandating of all Americans to buy health insurance. I'm not a constitutional scholar, however there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to indicate that such a mandate is unconstitutional. The fifth amendment prohibits people being deprived of "life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation". A person's income is most certainly private property and cannot be taken by the government without just compensation (As a side note this is also a compelling argument for the unconstitutionality of 'income-tax'). According to the current bills, if a person fails to purchase health care insurance, they can be fined hundreds of dollars. The money people are forced to spend on health care premiums amount to no less than a seizure of private property, and in the current bills the mandate takes effect almost immediately, while benefits of the bill may not take effect until years later. This would no doubt be a seizure of property without compensation. Aside from the constitutional argument, it would be unprecedented for Congress to mandate American citizens to buy anything. This amounts to a degree of government intrusion into personal liberty that should alarm everyone. If people are mandated to buy health insurance, what will they be mandated next? Will we be mandated to buy "green" cars or homes?
These are the two main reasons why I couldn't support this bill. There are other aspects of it that I question but are more debatable. Another thing that is very alarming about the bill is the speed at which Democrats are trying to push this legislation through. It seems very much to me that they are just trying to pass "anything" without much concern for what's actually in it. Most likely this is due to the fact that the Congressmen know that mid-term elections are coming up in 2010, and know that they may very well loose control of Congress, especially considering recent opinion polls that indicate Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with their actions. The individual mandate issue is also something that has caused President Obama to loose considerable points with me as well being that during the Democratic primary one of his primary differences with Hilary Clinton on health care reform was that he didn't agree with the idea of mandating people to buy coverage. He has completely reversed on that position. In the end we desperately need reform, but reform needs to be constitutional; it needs to be much more bi-partisan, and it needs to be done carefully and lawmakers need to take their time and get it right.
...Allah Knows Best...