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  • Writer's picturedocschleg

Medical Debt and Abortion

I have been reading a fascinating book titled “End Medical Debt: Curing America’s $1 Trillion Unpayable Healthcare Debt.” It’s written by three people who are the “Founders of the national charity RIP Medical Debt” and an editor. Check out RIP Medical Debt online at

You may have already heard of this 501.c.3 charity in the news or on TV. Since its inception in 2014, RIP Medical Debt (RIP) has helped charitable donors buy and forgive about $5 Billion in medical debt. That is an astonishing amount of charity, to say the least. You should check out the website for a description of how they do it. Individuals and organizations like churches ( can donate to help people in need of medical debt forgiveness.

It is clear, through reading this book, that RIP is truly a charity in that these are not people that are just crunching numbers, but there is a clear moral cause they are pursuing. The authors of this book affirm that the healthcare system, which includes health insurance companies, physicians, hospitals, collection agencies, and a host of other professions, is not just broken and ineffective, but unjust. My summary from reading the book is that RIP can broadly be described as an effort to bring justice and wholeness to individuals and communities affected by medical debt.

In chapter 9, the author makes a case for disease prevention through effective public policy. He points to the historic "Cigarette Tax" and newer "Sugar Tax" as ways public policy can lead to lower rates of smoking and lower consumption of other products (e.g., sodas) that lead to obesity and disease (p. 135-137). He then explores genetic testing as a way to improve public health and, ostensibly, decrease healthcare costs for common good benefit. RIP is, after all, a debt forgiveness charity.

“Genetic testing plays a role in identifying fetuses likely to be born with life-ending or threatening birth defects...How do we act on that information? In Iceland, fetal testing and abortions have virtually eliminated babies being born with Down syndrome...” (p 137-138).

The statement above about Iceland eliminating Down Syndrome through abortions is, upon investigation, slightly overstated. The sentiment is not. Groups are indeed attempting to reduce or eliminate certain genetic conditions through prenatal genetic testing and abortion. However, what stood out to me is that this book suggests that testing and aborting fetuses with certain genetic conditions is a way to reduce the burden of healthcare costs to American society. It is, in their opinion, congruent with other such disease prevention methods as taxes on specific goods. It should be noted that the book states (p. 136) that the court of appeals in New York found the sugar tax unlawful and struck it down (This is true. On June 26, 2014, section 81.53 of the New York City Health Code was repealed by the court).

What do you make of this?

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