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To all those who strongly disagree

| Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Upon entering North Dining Hall on Tuesday, I lost my appetite. 

As my eyes scanned the responses scattered across the display board entitled “Should the U.S. enact Medicare for all?,” spanning from strongly disagree to strongly agree, I felt mixed emotions. Disbelief. Hope. Disgust. Anger. Shock. All of the above. The amount of times I read the phrase “healthcare is a privilege” on the strongly disagree side made my head spin. The fact that one of my peers actually wrote “IDK just buy health insurance bro” made me want to scream. I saw sketches of cartoon animals strewn across the board, as if people were drawing on the backs of children’s menus instead of commenting on a very real and pressing societal injustice. I watched as the tall red-headed boy in front of me, laughing with his friends, scrawled “nah, fam” on a Post-It note and proudly slapped it on the board.

Kerry Schneeman | The Observer

At a University that encourages its students to be “a force for good in the world,” I expected more from the responses I read. 

Let me be very clear: the fact that many of our fellow Americans suffer from a lack of access to adequate healthcare is not a joke. It is not an issue deserving of a response in the form of a mindless cartoon drawing. It is not a topic that should be laughed about with the bros and addressed with an unintelligible “nah, fam.” It is a human rights crisis that over 27 million Americans face, even under changes made by the ACA. It is a terrifying reality for families who, despite having at least one full-time employed adult in the family, can’t afford coverage due to the high cost of insurance. It is the absence of necessary preventative care and services for 1 in 5 uninsured adults who are told that, because “healthcare is a privilege” in this country, their position at the bottom of the social ladder makes their health and well-being less valuable than that of those in positions of wealth and power. 

To the person who wrote “We already spend the most per capita on healthcare of any government, and we get abysmal results. … The problem isn’t how much we’re spending. It’s how we spend it.”: Thank you. Thank you for understanding how problematic it is that, as of 2018, the United States ranks number one in healthcare spending ($3.65 trillion) in developed countries and yet, as of 2016, ranks 27th in healthcare quality. The U.S. spends the most on healthcare in the developed world, yet we rank far behind other developed countries that have (you guessed it!) universal healthcare. Just some food for thought. 

To the person who wrote “Healthcare is pro-life! It is necessary to protect the dignity of all people!”: Thank you. Thank you for realizing the hypocrisy that exists in claiming to be pro-life but anti-universal healthcare. Thank you for raising the point of human dignity, which is one of the core tenets of Catholic Social Teaching that Notre Dame, as a Catholic academic institution, has a duty to strive to uphold. If you doubt that the Catholic Church is strongly pro-universal healthcare, I suggest you direct your attention to Pope John Paul XXIII’s 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris, the Framework for Comprehensive Healthcare Reform written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church or literally anything Pope Francis has ever said. 

Your privileged position in society does not make you more deserving of receiving routine medical care, nor does it excuse you from forming educated, informed opinions on one of the most pressing injustices in our society. Healthcare is a basic human right inherently deserved, not a commodity earned by economic success. If you can’t see that, your vision is blurred by privilege. Perhaps, then, you should get your eyes checked — since, you know, you can afford to do so. 

Hannah Koechley is a senior. Contact her and Show Some Skin at [email protected] Show Some Skin is a student-run initiative committed to giving voice to unspoken narratives about identity and difference. Using the art of storytelling as a catalyst for positive social change across campus, we seek to make Notre Dame a more open and welcoming place for all. If you are interested in breaking the silence and getting involved with Show Some Skin, email [email protected].

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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