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AFSC Supports Universal Health Care in the United States

AFSC Supports Universal Health Care in the United States

Monday, December 21, 2009
The American Friends Service Committee calls for changes to the U.S. healthcare system consistent with the Quaker values of the dignity and equality of all human beings. It is our practice also to root our work for economic justice within a human rights framework, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights*, which includes a recognition that health care is a human right. We are mindful that many people in all walks of life in the United States have difficulty in receiving the medical care they need. We are concerned about the profound inequities in U.S. health care access, outcomes and quality, which disproportionately affect people of color, immigrants, and the uninsured.

We affirm the following principles on health care:

  1. Health care policies should promote the common good.
  2. Health care should be universally available to all people living in the United States and its territories.
  3. Health care should be continuous from birth to the end of life.
  4. There should be equal access to quality care regardless of ability to pay or prior medical condition.
  5. Decisions on personal health care should be made by health care recipients and their providers.
  6. Local health care delivery systems and institutions should be designed to respond to local needs and encourage community participation in their design and governance.
  7. Services and treatment should be truly comprehensive and should include care for all aspects of health and disease, with the goal of promoting wholeness of mind, body and spirit.
  8. Services should be provided in a way that is responsive to and respectful of cultural diversity.

The American Friends Service Committee is committed to supporting these changes. Equal access to healthcare is an economic justice concern and a moral and ethical one, affecting people’s ability to work, care for themselves and family members, participate in community life, and live a full and dignified life. We pledge to work alongside those most directly affected by a broken health care system and with allies in the religious, human rights, labor, immigrant and other communities to build a movement for health care justice in the United States.


*1In 2004, AFSC’s board approved a report, “Putting Dignity and Rights at the Heart of the Global Economy: A Quaker Perspective,” prepared by an AFSC Working Party on Global Economics. Appendix A includes a recommendation to “Transform the global economy to respect and nourish the inherent dignity and human rights, including economic rights, of all people as called for in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” The report calls on the U.S. government to “support universal health insurance” (p. 77).

Article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”