Monday, November 23, 2009

Tea Party protesters lack compassion, heckle grieving mother

At a recent town hall event in Illinois held by Rep. Dan Lipinski, several members of the Chicago Tea Party Patriots attended in order to publicly heckle the Democratic representative. They booed his comments, chanted "USA!" over his statements, and appeared to care very little for actually listening to what the member of Congress had to say about health care reform.

When a supporter of health reform stood up to talk about her daughter's personal story of a system gone wrong, it didn't seem to matter.

Midge Hough, whose daughter and unborn granddaughter died partly due to lacking health insurance, spoke candidly about the need for a public option and other reforms necessary to help this country. She spoke of her daughter's tragic ordeal, of having to leave one hospital to enter another, of having to lie to that second hospital about having insurance simply so they could be seen by a doctor.

If there was any sympathy for Hough and her family in that room, it was hard to spot. Some reports and eyewitness accounts speak of eye-rolling, of continued heckling, and even cynical laughter at the grieving mother's tale. In a mass email sent by an organizer for the Chicago Tea Party Patriots, Catherina Wojtowicz disputed the story as true, and called the Hough family operatives of Obama that "go from event to event and (cry about) the same story."

I don't like to label people based upon their associations to organizations. But the more I see events like these, the more Tea Party protests I view on the web, the more I'm beginning to wonder: are all Tea Party protesters this insensitive? Or is this political movement simply blind to the injustices of discrimination through pre-existing conditions, or injustices through economic hardships? Do they really believe that people should die because they once had a condition that needed medical attention, or because they can't afford to buy insurance themselves?

Isn't that the true definition of rationing of care? Shouldn't this inspire us to make drastic changes to the system? Or should we say to these individuals, "Hey, you had this problem once, so we're not going to treat any other expensive procedure"?

Say what you will about the proposed bills for health care reform -- I'll be the first to admit to you they're not perfect. But they are bills that, if passed, will give much-needed help to individuals who face these situations, or to those who can't adequately afford health insurance.

We can't afford to lose another life to this crisis. How many more thousands must perish because some have unwarranted fears over government-run health care? Take a moment to consider the lives of those most affected by the health care crisis we're currently in. If you still think reform is a bad idea, at least you've taken those families into consideration.

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