Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Patrick Henry uttered his famous line, "Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!" on March 23, 1775.

Now, 235 years after Henry's statement, President Barack Obama signed the health care reform bill into law.

Henry was determined to fight for liberty -- the power for the American people to make individual choices. This desire for liberty in Henry and others provided the fuel and supported the belief that the rights of the American people begin with God, are given to individual people and then loaned from those individuals to our government.

Thomas Jefferson reflected these beliefs when he wrote our Declaration of Independence.

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"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Our unalienable right of liberty -- the power to make individual choices -- is coming under attack from our own government. The new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates individual insurance coverage.

Set aside the distaste for backroom deals made behind closed doors, pressuring Congress for votes, increased taxes to fund special deals for individual states and an executive order to appease concerns about abortion funding. This is about more than making the legislative process "sausage production" look appetizing -- it's about the government redefining our rights.

"We have a moral obligation today to make health care a right," stated Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., on the floor of the House during the final debate.

When health care was made a right, individual liberty was taken out of the lineup. The government made the decision for us. Even if the decision were correct, it is not the government's to make.

A rewrite of the Declaration of Independence according to some might read, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Health Care and the pursuit of Happiness."

Is health insurance coverage for Americans a good thing? Certainly. But a government big enough and powerful enough to think it can create a new right might also think it can add more, or even take away, those rights we currently have.


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.