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October 19 in Frankfort Health & Welfare Interim Joint Com. underway this morning. Issues on today’s agenda -review of KY Children’s Oral Health, Update on Diabetes and programs in KY, presentation on Transitioning from State to Federal Benefit Exchange & Fostering Success -KY statewide employment initiative to empower, hire and engage former fostered youth in employment. (rolled out this summer by Gov. Bevin’s Adm.)
“Life- from Conception to Natural Death” Part 1 Hierarchy of Rights & Dignity
As your State Representative, I receive many inquiries on matters of “rights”: property rights, patient rights, right to work, violations of rights, etc.
October is celebrated as Respect Life Month, so as a woman, mother, nurse, bioethicist, and your elected representative, I would like to provide an in-depth reflection on the most basic of human rights, “The Right to Life.”
Human rights are inherent to all human beings, regardless of gender, nationality, place of residency, sex, ethnicity, religion, color, or any other categorization. Thus, human rights are non-discriminatory, meaning that all human beings are entitled to them and cannot be excluded from them.
There are a variety of human rights, including:
Our Constitution and Bill of Rights clarify fundamental rights that the government can never deprive the people of the United States, which include the right to life; liberty, freedom of religion, free speech, to bear arms, and due process under the law.
Of course, while all human beings are entitled to human rights, not all human beings throughout the world experience them equally. Many governments, cultures, and individuals ignore human rights and have adopted policies and laws that reflect a hierarchy of rights which then grossly exploit other human beings.
Women have fought long battles for the recognition of their very basic human rights: life, liberty, owning property, inheriting property, perusing an education, consenting to marriage, and voting. Over the years the list has expanded to a battle over a right declared as “reproductive rights” or “reproductive freedom”.
While I support the inherent rights of women, I am unapologetically “Pro-Life”!
The right to life and liberty is the very essence of our human rights. I hold to the principle of equality of human rights based on the recognition of equal dignity for all human beings. Recognizing that we are all equal in dignity is not only the basis of our democratic system, but also demands that we deprive no one of his or her essential dignity.
Human “rights” flow from our human dignity. What makes us human is a matter of significance that has filled libraries of anthropological, genetic, and scientific research. What makes a unique human is a matter of the scientific fact that human life begins at fertilization. The explosion of knowledge derived from new recombinant DNA technologies and medical and scientific research over the past twenty-five years has continued to confirm the fact that from the moment of conception, a new and unique human life comes into creation that is neither the DNA of the mother or father but possesses its own unique human identity evident in its DNA design. Thus, the principle of equality and recognition of human dignity is not a matter of size, age, developmental capabilities, etc. but is based on our humanity.
As a legal “right” for women, “abortion” masquerading as a reproductive right legitimized the right to destroy another life. Abortion wrongly affirms that there should be a hierarchy of human rights and human dignity, violating all principles of equality.
Historically, the greatest social evils perpetuated on humanity–genocide, racism, abortion, and slavery–have always violated the principle of equality. The most nefarious aspect of slavery, genocide, the atrocities of the Holocaust and abortion is the dehumanization of another human being (men, women or child). Any such violation of human equality imposes a hierarchy of rights that leads to the degradation of others and deprives them of their humanity when they are not permitted to achieve their full human potential.
A flawed hierarchical view of humanity is tragically reflected in the 1973 Roe v.Wade, landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Roe v.Wade case was decided simultaneously with a companion case, Doe v. Bolton. that a right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision and right to terminate the life of her unborn child. These Courts decisions imposed regulatory practices that have relegated an entire sector of humanity to an inferior status in which their dignity and rights are considered of “less value” than those of the rest of humanity.
Human rights and dignity cannot be proportioned but are always a reflection of each and every individual’s equality.I submit to you, that the dignity and rights of the mother are no greater than those of her child. Nor are the dignity and rights of the child greater than those of its mother.Because of their humanity, THEY ARE BOTH EQUAL IN HUMAN DIGNITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS.
Because of its legality, abortion is given a veneer of legitimacy in our society. However, abortion, legal or illegal, involves the selective termination and elimination of the most innocent and vulnerable members of society.
Our humanity, that very core of what makes us human and differentiates us from any other species on earth, demands that this equality be recognized. Just as any other time in human history when we have failed to recognize basic violations of human rights, like slavery, genocide, or other inhumane acts, we then become less human.
Again, history confirms that our nation and society’s greatest injustices have occurred when we have failed to affirm and recognize human dignity and the principle of equality.
While many share my position, I am aware that some may have different positions on this issue. Thank you for taking the time to read Part 1 in this series and for allowing me to share my reflections with you. Addia
Further reading: Wondering about the concept of ”human dignity? What exactly is the linguistic origin of dignity? … Etymologically, the word stems from the Latin dignitāt-em for “merit” and “worth”. Man’s inviolable worth! We could look from a faith perspective -Created in the image of God. But the world has long confirmed the understanding of human dignity even when violating the rights and dignity of others treating them as less than human. Slavery is degrading because it treats human beings as property and not as individuals with worth and dignity. Slavery affirmed there that a hierocracy of rights and human dignity exists, as slaves become objects that can be used and disposed of without regard for their humanity. The years after the Holocaust and World War II bearing testimony to witnessed such grave violations against humanity there rose much discussion about and reflection on the idea of human dignity. Not long after the Nuremberg trials, the drafters of the new German Constitution included in its opening article the statement that “the dignity of man is inviolable.” A year earlier, the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights referred to the “inherent dignity” of human beings and proclaimed that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” In the years that followed, numerous constitutions drafted also employed the term “dignity” “and society and cultures throughout the world are founded on the values and respect for human dignity.
Today is the 40th Anniversary of the Hyde Amendment. The Ammendment, named for the late Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), prohibits the use of government monies to pay for abortion procedures for Medicaid recipients and has been continued and added to federal appropriations bills since 1976. The Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, estimates the amendment has “saved over two million unborn children” from abortion.
Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend! Today at your Capitol… 10:00 AM The 5 Budget Review Sub Committees will be meeting this morning. I serve on the Budget Sub Com. on Human Services. Today’s Agenda: I. Benefind -Presenter: Angie Maddox, Update on Medicaid. II. Section 1115 Waiver Application, Presenters: Stephen Miller, Commissioner, Department of Medicaid, Cabinet for Health and Family Services, and Adam Meier, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, Office of the Governor
1:00 PM Interim Joint Appropriations & Revenue Committee Agenda. I. Testimony regarding actions taken by AT&T since the 2015 deregulation bill was enacted by the General Assembly II. Discussion on the affordable housing tax credit bill introduced during the 2016 Regular Session, III. Other Business; A. List of Committee Correspondence and items referred to the Committee, Correspondence from John Scott, Deputy Director, Office of Budget Review: B. Interim Emergency Appropriation Increases for FY 2016 and FY 2017, C. Interim Allotment Adjustments for FY 2016 and FY 2017 Tune in on KET or follow our updates on today’s discussions on Twitter and FB
Tune in to KET Monday, September 12th at 8pm
Sen. Adams and I will discuss KY Medicaid, Waivers and Traditional versus Expanded with host Renee Shaw on Kentucky Tonight along with Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lex. and Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, D-Lou.
Congratulations to Dr Nancy Swikert (Boone Co) upon being elected and installed this evening as President of the Kentucky Medical Association! So very proud of you!
As a member of the Kentucky House of Representatives, a R.N., and a retired health care administrator, I wanted to carefully review the Kentucky HEALTH proposal, the Medicaid waiver, and fully understand the elements of the plan: the cost analysis, projection, and health benefits before commenting.
In a state of just 4.3 million citizens, we should all find it alarming that in the last decade, those enrolled in Kentucky’s Medicaid program has more than doubled from 600,000 Medicaid enrollees to just under 1.4 million Kentucky citizens!
We have some huge challenges before us.
Two weeks ago during the Appropriations and Revenue Interim Joint Committee Meeting, Secretary Brinkman and members of the Health and Family Services Cabinet presented an overview of the recently unveiled initiative to reshape Kentucky Medicaid, including the components of the proposed waiver known as Kentucky HEALTH, which will soon be submitted to the federal government. During the presentation, Committee members had the opportunity to engage in discussions on Medicaid enrollment, utilization, cost, future projections, and statistical information.
As I followed the criticisms and judgments since the Administration announced Kentucky HEALTH, I think this is one of those situations when a sensitive issue is touched, like health care for the disadvantaged, and everyone immediately retreats to a defensive position, often hearing only what they are expecting to hear. What fails to be reported and seems to get missed are many of the actuarial facts.
For instance, Kentucky’s Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) are paid more and their
average profits are greater than any other state in the nation. Governor Bevin’s Administration has already taken steps to correct this issue, renegotiating the contracts to ensure a more prudent use of taxpayers’ money. A savings of over $280 million is projected over the next six months. It will also ensure that more Medicaid dollars go to providing actual health care benefits to Medicaid recipients rather than MCO profits.
These are very complex matters, and after review, I believe the Administration has taken not just a dollars- and cents-approach, but a compassionate and common-sense approach, raising necessary questions that examine several problems with the current Medicaid program.
For example, are we leveraging state and federal dollars in the most cost-effective and responsible way? By providing government fully funded Medicaid to the able-bodied population, are we preserving sufficient resources to serve the most vulnerable Kentuckians: children, the aging, the blind, individuals with disabilities, and those most in need? Are we aligning our health policy and incentives with the desired outcomes — because truth be known, despite plenty of spending, we have not effectively moved the needle on improving health outcomes in Kentucky.
And how do we proactively assist Kentuckians to obtain health care coverage while at the same time ensure such assistance includes a path to independence and advances their potential, rather than binding our citizens in the cycle of dependency?
Kentucky HEALTH is not only fiscally responsible, but also reflects a keen understanding of how we should view our fellow citizens who are Medicaid-eligible. Over time, our well-meaning charity and compassion has robbed many able-bodied individuals of their capacity and productivity and driven them deeper into a life of dependence. It is actually “toxic charity” and insulting to individuals’ human dignity when we continue to think that Medicaid-eligible citizens are incapable of engaging in their own health care and taking actions to improve their well-being and health outcomes.
Kentucky HEALTH does not kick current recipients off of Medicaid, but it does require able-bodied individuals to engage in their community and themselves to earn additional benefits over the standard benefit package through activities such as community service, working on their GED, or job training.
Many of the proposed Kentucky HEALTH initiatives and incentives that encourage individual health care responsibility and improved well-being are the very same ones that were incorporated into the private and public employee insurance and health care plans over a decade ago. Why would we NOT want the same benefits, with proven outcomes, for our Medicaid-eligible citizens?
The proposed waiver and changes incorporated in the Kentucky HEALTH plan will preserve Kentucky taxpayers’ dollars and ensure health care for our most vulnerable citizens and the uninsured–but it doesn’t stop there. Kentucky HEALTH provides for our able-bodied Medicaid recipients to also become informed and responsible health care consumers and provides them an opportunity to improve their lives and rise out of the welfare trap.
The time has come for a principled and fiscally responsible approach to improving the lives of all our citizens—an approach that incorporates dollar and cents as well as compassion and common sense. Governor Bevin’s Kentucky HEALTH plan does exactly that.
Addia Kathryn Wuchner is an R.N. and state Representative and vice chair of the House Health and Welfare Committee. She is originally from Louisville, resides in Boone County, and serves the people of the 66th House District. She former Vice President of Strategic Planning for St. Luke Hospital and The Health Alliance, and Founder/Director of Project Wings of Mercy – Hope and Humanitarian Aid Medical Missions.