Health Care Is a Right (Revisited)

Last week I posted my thoughts on why health care is a right. My argument fostered two responses. Both, were rooted in the economics of health care, rather than the actually right itself. After thinking over the responses, I chose to respond to an Instagram user’s rebuttal. First, I will rework my core argument so it is clearer. Second, I will respond to the objection. Overall, I am holding firm to my assertion, that health care is indeed a right.

The Claim

If we believe that any given person has the intrinsic right to life, then we ought to grant them the right to health care. Health care, or more specifically the act of healing injury and preventing illness, ensures life is maintained. Hearts can pump if they are maintained, just as engines power cars if there are looked after. Life, taken as the biological function of the person’s body, is to some extent mechanical.

Body parts, as car parts, wear out after continued use, accidents and misuse. In order to keep a car functioning, a mechanic is needed to replace, clean, restore and swap out car parts. Medical professionals perform these same tasks on bodies. They restore, change out and maintain our bodies. Thus, just as a mechanic keeps a car in good condition, medical professionals keep our bodies in good working order.

Mechanics prolong the life of a car and maintain it, while medical professionals do the same to our bodies. The work mechanics preform on cars, such as restoring or cleaning, is vital to the car’s “life”. Medical professionals prolong and maintain our life by caring for our bodies. The act of “examining-a-patient-and-advising-them-on-how-to-lower-their-blood-sugar” or “setting-and-placing-a-cast-on-a-broken-leg” is akin to the mechanic “replacing-a-battery”.

The act of care is a right. The act of “diagnosing-a-patient-with-asthma” is fundamental to that patient’s health, and thus intimately connected to maintaining their life. Without this diagnosis, the patient could suffer an asthma attack and die. This of course would end their life, thus violating the patient’s most basic right as a person.

The Objection

The Instagram user megapatriot posed this object to the notion that health care is a right:

When you say you have the right to someone’s services you are saying you believe in slavery, you are saying you believe in extracting from someone. Example: If you say you have a right to food you are saying you have the right to come onto my farm and forcefully steal my food if I refuse it to you.

First, before I counter this objection, I will state that my argument has nothing to do with “health care services”. My argument is focused on establishing health care as a right, not defining how the right needs to be implemented. Putting it bluntly, megapatriot’s objection does not impact my argument because it is not grounded in the same realm as my argument.

Response

If I have the right to own and use a firearm it does not mean that I have the right to randomly discharge it in the middle of a town. I may only shoot my weapon in proper places and situations. By discharging a gun in the middle of town, I am creating a situation that could easily threaten the safety, and lives, of other people. The bullet may bounce off the ground and kill someone nearby. It may fly down the street and strike someone I cannot see. It could damage buildings, cars and other property. This would be a hostile situation to all, especially the shooter. Such actions would draw attention from the police or others who are carrying firearms.

Even though we have a right to health care, does not mean we can locate a doctor and demand they begin fixing our ailments. There are ways in which rights may be exercised. Otherwise, we might find ourselves in a number of undesirable situations, such as the extreme one mentioned by megapatriot, where we are enslaving medical professionals. The method of managing this right is where many people disagree, and this discussion exists outside of my argument.

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