The Common Good

As a Pediatrician, a Muslim, and a Mother: Speaking Out for Health-Care Reform

As representatives from many different faiths, we stand together today, united in our support for health-care reform so that affordable, quality health care can be made available to all. There are many statistics that show our current system of providing health care in America is broken. Many people are needlessly suffering and dying because of lack of access to basic medical care. This is unacceptable in a country with such wealth and resources.

I am here today as a pediatrician.

I have seen in my practice the importance of children having access to regular check-ups, preventative care, and early medical intervention to treat illnesses before they become debilitating or life-threatening.

In my husband's work as an emergency medicine physician, he has seen the effects of our broken system from a different angle. There are ever-increasing numbers of patients seeking help in emergency departments because they did not have access to regular and preventative care.

People are often sicker, with advanced diseases and untreated injuries that cause suffering that could have been prevented in many cases. Treating these illnesses at later stages is also much more expensive.

I am here today as a Muslim.

The sacredness of life and the responsibility of taking care of all of humanity are central tenets of my faith, Islam. The Qur'an defines the sacredness of each human life in Chapter 5, verse 32, in which it teaches that to take one innocent life is as bad as if one has taken the lives of all of humanity, and to save one life is as good as if one has saved the lives of all of humanity. Every single life, in the eyes of God, is that sacred.

In Chapter 17, verse 70, the Qur'an also teaches that God has honored and dignified the descendants of the first person, Adam. That is, all of us (in humanity). So we are mandated to treat each person with the utmost respect and care, that befitting a creation that God has made sacred and blessed with an inherent honor and dignity.

Each person matters. We cannot stand by and allow people to suffer and be ill when we have ways to ease their suffering and cure their illnesses. To allow this is to allow an injustice that should not be accepted by people of faith.

And I am here today as a mother.

When I became a parent, a mother, my heart awoke to a greater understanding of what it means to feel mercy for someone. I experience feelings of mercy for my children that are so intense I cannot even describe them. But even though I cannot describe them, I am sure that every parent knows exactly what I am talking about.

Since I became a mother, when I look into the face of a child that is not my own, I see my own child's eyes reflected there. I feel the echo of that mercy in my heart. As I do not want my own children to suffer, I do not want anyone else's children to suffer either.

Working to ensure access to health care for all of our children is a way I can live my commitment to my faith, my profession, and the ultimate responsibility of motherhood that God has given me.

Our system for providing health care in this country is broken. We need to fix it. To remain silent when others are in need or suffering is not an option, especially for people of faith.

God calls on us to uphold the sacredness of each life, to honor the dignity of each person, and to take care of our neighbors. As a pediatrician, as a Muslim, and as a mother, I stand here today with my brothers and sisters from the community to call for a humane approach to health-care reform.

portrait-dr-asma-mobin-uddinDr. Asma Mobin-Uddin is a pediatrician, a Muslim, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations' Ohio Chapter (CAIR-Ohio), and a mother of three children. This post is adapted from remarks she made at a recent central Ohio interfaith press conference calling for fairness in health-care reform and civility in the health-care debate.

To learn more about health-care reform, click here to visit Sojourners' Health-Care Resources Web page.

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