The United States Catholic Bishops issue a statement calling for equal access to health services without discrimination during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The rapid spread of the Coronavirus continues to strain health care systems’ ability to save lives. In many countries, the lack of respirators and intensive care units is forcing doctors and nurses to face dramatic choices between who to treat – and who not.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) published a statement on their website on 3 April, addressing this issue. Any discrimination on the basis of age or disability is ethically unacceptable, they say.
No discrimination or exclusion
“Every crisis produces fear, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no exception”, reads the statement. “However, this is not a time to sideline our ethical and moral principles. It is a time to uphold them ever more strongly”.
“In a time of crisis we must not discriminate against persons solely on the basis of disability or age by denying them medical care”, continue the Bishops. “Good and just stewardship of resources cannot include ignoring those on the periphery of society, but must serve the common good of all, without categorically excluding people based on ability, financial resources, age, immigration status, or race”.
Praise for healthcare workers
The Bishops praise health care workers for their “courage, compassion, and truly remarkable professional care in a time of growing crisis”. But they also address the scarcity of medical resources, noting how this reality “will require patients, their families and medical professionals, to work together in weighing the benefits and burdens of care, the needs and safety of everyone, and how to distribute resources in a prudent, just, and unbiased way”.
“With our Holy Father, Pope Francis”, concludes the statement, “the entire Church continues to pray for, and offer support to, all those affected by this pandemic.”