To the Editor:

Re “U.S. Rule Limits Emergency Care for Immigrants” (front page, Sept. 22):

The Bush administration’s near simultaneous demolition of immigrants’ and children’s rights to health care is no coincidence. The same brand of denial is responsible—the denial of the fact that health is a basic human right.

The next presidential election will allow our country to make a clear statement on this matter. Will we continue to allow the most vulnerable members of our society to be cared for by the whim of the market? Or will we stand up for a basic human right?

Nicholas Gavin
New York, Sept. 22, 2007
The writer is president of the New York University School of Medicine chapter of Physicians for Human Rights.

Note from KBJ: This letter is one bold assertion piled on another. It begins by asserting that health is a “human right.” But this isn’t enough, apparently. The right is said to be “basic.” And it’s not enough for there to be a basic human right to health; it’s a “fact” that health is a basic human right. Notice the sly rhetoric: “right,” “basic,” “fact.” This rhetoric may move the unthinking, but it doesn’t constitute a reason to believe. By the way, the letter writer says nothing about (1) responsibility, (2) cost, or (3) duty. Can people forfeit this “basic human right” through irresponsible conduct, such as overeating? Even the right to life can be forfeited. How much will the right cost, and how will the cost be distributed? If every human (why just humans? isn’t that speciesist?) has a “right to health,” who has the correlative duty? Do I have a duty to provide for the health of someone on the other side of the world?