Andrea Abbott, Central Square

As a minister for a small church in a rural area of upstate New York, I am often confronted with the health problems of both church members and people who come to ask for aid. We all have bodies, rich and poor alike, and our bodies are subject to accident and disease, no matter who we are. However, the difference in medical outcomes are often starkly different. It is often said that no amount of money can buy health. Though wealth, or at least good insurance, cannot change many conditions, it can mean the difference between life and death in many others. Many people cannot find work that gives them insurance, such as those working multiple part time jobs or those who are independent contractors. For many people, though they work very hard indeed, illness sends them from survival to homelessness. In the worst cases, people with life threatening conditions have planned to refuse treatment because the cost of treatment would bankrupt their families. In one case, a person planned suicide rather than subject his or her family to poverty. In this case, an alternative was found, but it left me very concerned about those who may have done this without consulting others.

I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all people. A society which grants life to some and death to others based on their ability to pay is morally destitute. Such as society diminishes everyone in it. If we are all to live up to our moral responsibilities, we must insist on the right of decent health care for everyone.