Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine
Vol. 8, No. 5 (47)
- The Oath of Hippocrates Today
Exposing the Dishonesty of Political Correctness
- Readers’ Comments Invited
When Physicians Err: Should They Tell?
- Terrell’s Treatises
- Brief Reports with Commentary
- AIDS: Issues and Answers
- Major Organ Transplantation Is Murder….
- AAFP and Abortion: Praise by Faint Damns
Exposing the Dishonesty of Political Correctness
Ed’s Note: The following is a brief message that I gave as part of a panel discussion at the 54th Annual Meeting of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) in Chicago, September 18, 1997. The panel was planned after an article that I wrote for the Medical Sentinelin the Spring of 1997 caused some reaction from the American Medical Association, within AAPS, and from individual physicians.
The crisis of American medicine is not tobacco, AIDS, silicone, the Gulf War Syndrome, breast or any other form of cancer, physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, licensure, medical care for the poor, or any other specific medical or ethical issue. The crisis of American medicine is far greater than any one of these problems; indeed, it is far greater than all of them combined, because the answers to these problems do not come from within them, but from medical ethics. It is the same crisis that faces our culture in every other area: How do we decide ethics? That is, how do we decide what is right and what is wrong? Is there a method which will stand the test of time, or do ethics change with changing cultures? How are medical-ethical decisions made today?
1) What is needed is a standard or a method whereby to determine ethical decisions. Since the Hippocratic Oath is our focus today, I will start there. The Hippocratic Oath has had an amazing longevity, if not impact over medicine for more than two millennia. However, in recent times, many ethicists pick and choose from it, rather than endorse the whole. Occasionally, I read an ethical opinion that appeals to the Hippocratic Oath. For example, there might be an appeal for the responsibility of students to their teachers or physicians not taking advantage of the sick in their vulnerable circumstances. However, I know that those writers would never embrace the Oath’s prohibition against abortion or euthanasia. So the Oath is really no standard at all when one has a freedom to pick and choose what one does or does not like about it.
2) Many, if not most, people would argue for the democratic approach. Indeed, this may be the major direction of American medicine. Consensus panels are determining treatment for every problem from otitis media to myocardial infarctions to lung cancer. Standards are set by experts.
However, there is not a person in this room or anywhere else who will not disagree with more than one of these consensus statements, whether they concern medical treatment or medical ethics. Obviously, there is some other standard that we are following when we stand as an individual against “consensus.”
3) Or there is the approach that “Might makes right.” Few people would openly choose this method, especially using these exact words. However, we all are quite willing to use authority when we think it right. Recently, one physician called on state licensure committees to take away the licenses of any physician who attempted to help a homosexual change his sexual orientation.
Pro-abortionists went after the Supreme Court to make their position law, and now pro-life people want the law changed. While we shy away from the label, “Might makes right,” we are quite willing to use it to promote what we believe.
4) Many today argue for pluralism. Pluralism also has other names: multi-culturalism and cultural diversity. Pluralism sounds loving. It sounds accepting of every opinion and approach. However, in practice, pluralism is not practical, and those who advocate it are dishonest.
Pluralism is impractical because it cannot decide on a course of action. Pluralism cannot decide the abortion issue. If you and I disagree about abortion, both our ideas cannot be implemented. That is indeed why abortion continues to be a dividing force in the United States. Pluralism on a serious issue does not work. Neither side is willing to give up its position. And, each should not.
Most who advocate pluralism are dishonest. They actually advocate only those positions with which they agree. For example, those who are “pro-choice” on abortion are often accepting of homosexuals, radical environmentalists, and advocates of gun control, but will vigorously deny even the right of Christian fundamentalists to speak.
Note the words of one who wrote against my article in the Medical Sentinel, “Fundamentalism is moral arrogance and moral imperialism whether in Afghanistan, Iran, or the Christian Right in the U.S.A.”
May I ask, simply, why my opinion is “moral arrogance and imperialism” and his is not? The worst totalitarian regimes of the 20th century were profoundly and consistently atheistic, not religious fundamentalism. If we are a pluralistic society, why is my opinion condemned and his is not?”
It may startle you from what I have just said to say that I think that true pluralism would be a start in the right direction. When, however, have you seen a condemnation of evolution, abortion, or homosexuality in The New England Journal of Medicine or JAMA or any medical publication? Our medical journals are not pluralistic, they are decidedly and consciously pro-abortion, anti-Christian, and anti- other issues. They are narrowly close-minded while advocating pluralism. Any opinion on medical-ethical issues is permitted as long as it is not fundamental religion. That, my colleagues, is dishonest!
A blinded reviewer of my article for the Medical Sentinel wrote:
“AAPS does not pretend that religious beliefs are irrelevant, as anyone who reads our publications carefully or attends the annual meeting can attest. The people who are hostile to religion certainly get the message, and they do not hesitate to tell us that they are offended. But, it is not our purpose to preach. We accept certain principles and live by them…. The Medical Sentinel is a medical journal, not a religious tract.”
Is he (or she) correct that the Sentinel, indeed, any medical journal is “not a religious tract?” Let me expand my question, “Can medicine be practiced apart from one’s religious beliefs?”
I would contend that the practice of medicine is inherently and inescapably religious. I would also contend that medicine’s failure to recognize and apply this connection has caused more morbidity and mortality than it has alleviated.
Let me see if I can back up this profound statement. 1) Medicine has failed to endorse the marriage of a man and a woman for life as the most healthy pattern. My own organization, the American Academy of Family Physicians, destroys its own raison d’etre by accepting whatever couples or groups of people decide to live under the same roof or associate together.
Yet, scientifically, marriage of a man and woman is far and away the most healthy situation.Should not we physicians be interested in the health of our patients and the American population?
a) In a recent report from the CDC, 87 percent of reportable disease were sexually transmitted. Sexual abstinence before and fidelity in marriage prevent all sexually transmitted diseases.
b) Hundreds of studies show that children from broken homes have more medical problems, cause more social disruption and even criminal activity, and are poorer achievers. Yet, over and over from so-called medical authorities I have heard the “Ozzie and Harriet” families made fun of and unnatural marriages of homosexuals endorsed.
c) Homosexuality promotes a morbid and deadly existence. Homosexuals have a high prevalence of STDs and other diseases, psychiatric problems, violence, and criminal activity. However, as I mentioned above, in major medical publications so-called experts have called for the de-licensure of any physician who advocates or helps a homosexual to change his lifestyle.
With its endorsement of homosexuality in 1973, the medical profession opened the way for the AIDS epidemic. I would not go so far as to say that the AIDS epidemic would never have happened without that endorsement, but certainly the epidemic was enhanced by that decision.
d) In 1977, Dr. James Lynch wrote a book, The Broken Heart, which demonstrated that married couples had better health and longevity, less disease, and fewer psychological problems than single people.
2) Medicine has failed to condemn abortion. Abortion wreaks havoc on life expectancy. If life expectancy is considered to be 75, and abortion deaths are factored in, life expectancy becomes about 43 years (2 million natural deaths and 1.5 million abortions).
3) Medicine has essentially left religion out of psychiatry. Answers to family and social problems are sought in a pill, rather than religion, which is often the only answer to those problems. I do not deny real organic psychiatric problems, but millions of Americans are needlessly medicated with the serious side effects and morbidity and mortality that those medications cause, while having their real situational problems camouflaged.
4) Medicine has been an accomplice to increasing crime. The evolutionary view of man cannot accept that some people are just mean and evil. Thus, anyone and everyone has the potential for “rehabilitation.” Yet, repeated studies show that psychiatrists are no better predictors of behavior than flipping a coin.
I could go on, but I have probably dropped enough bombshells for now. Perhaps, we can come back to them in the discussion later.
The point I want to make here is that medicine is inherently religious, because health, disease, and injury have a great deal to do with behavior. Should our medical journals become “religious tracts”? Should physicians “preach”?
No, our medical journals should not become religious tracts, but there ought to be open and honest debate about behavioral issues that are religious with medical consequences. Apart from purely religious journals, that debate is not allowed today. And, as I have pointed out, ill health and poor medicine have been a result.
Please understand, I am not advocating any more than what our medical leaders and editors advocate; that is, the open and honest debate allowed by true pluralism. That openness must necessarily include discussions of religion.
Medical ethics is in a state of chaos today. “Everyone does or advocates what is right in his own eyes.” While science may help us figure out how to help our patients medically, it cannot tell us what is right and wrong. What can? Public opinion? The force of law? Expert panels? Consensus of the AMA or AAPS?
None of us finds the ethical guidance that we require of ourselves or our patients from any one group or even a variety of groups. How, then, do we decide?
For medicine to become the potent force for healing of which it is capable with modern technology, it must return to some older ways — those of religion. Only people with extreme biases can ignore that the United States was forged in the crucible of religion, specifically Christianity. Our weakness has come as we have denied God and denied our roots in Him and His Word.
Yes, I think that substantial portions of our medical journals should carry religious debate over both ethical and medical issues. Science has shown that marriage is healthy, but God told us that several thousand years ago. God told us that “all things in moderation” are healthy, long before the dietary confirmation of modern science. God told us that exercise was healthy, but spiritual health was more important to true health.
If anyone is disturbed by this direction, and I suspect that more than one here today is, let me state that religious opinion is unavoidable. Absolutes are unavoidable. For example, “There are no absolutes” is an absolute statement that contradicts itself. Or, “Everything is relative,” another absolute that contradicts itself. If, then, there are absolutes, where do we find them? Not in science, which is conditioned by the specifics of its design; not in the vagaries of politics, public opinion, so-called “experts,” etc.
Absolutes are found in religion. For example, the Ten Commandments are not 10 suggestions! I challenge the AMA and the AAPS to return us to our God and to our roots for the health of our patients and our nation!
When Physicians Err: Should They Tell?
The front page of the Sunday Magazine of the Chicago Tribune (May 4, 1997) presented the situation, “When Doctors Err.” Inside the magazine, discussion focused on when and whether physicians should tell patients/family when they make mistakes. The range of effects can be from the benign to the fatal.
Recently, I ordered amoxicillin (in the penicillin family) on a patient who was allergic to penicillin. Both the medication nurse and myself missed the alert notice on the front of the patient’s chart. The pharmacy, even with its computerized records, also missed the error for three days. The patient had no demonstrable ill effects.
The following case was cited in the article above.
“A 39-year-old woman (in Boston) was being treated for breast cancer and doing well. During her last course of chemotherapy,she was inadvertently given four times the dose of Cytoxan for four days running. She developed severe vomiting, became dehydrated and died. The mistake was not discovered until two months later….”
The question is, “Should the patient/family be told of mistakes made by health-care workers?” If there are minimal or no ill effects, the answer seems to be “No.” However, what if there is significant harm, and (in today’s legal climate), telling could easily result in a malpractice suit. Suppose there were no threat of a lawsuit. Are health professionals morally obligated to tell? Do they tell only if there is likelihood that the mistake will be discovered?
A lawsuit can ruin a physician financially and destroy his career. However, a mistake not admitted early will appear worse in the courts of both law and public opinion.
I can see both sides of the issue. Physicians (and other health professionals) are not infallible, but today’s courts often hold them accountable in that way. Further, we seem morally responsible for the harm that we cause.
As you see, this question has several nuances. Admittedly, I have not pondered this question as thoroughly as necessary. Therefore, I throw it out to readers for their responses before I weigh in with my thoughts. I know that many physicians out there have made mistakes. How have you handled your mistakes? For patients, what moral obligation do you have from your physician in this regard?
The trumpet of the AIDS-apologists sounded an uncertain note in a recent article of The Journal of the American Medical Association (Rebecca Voelker, “Protease Inhibitors Bring New Social, Clinical Uncertainties to HIV Care,” April 16, 1997, pp. 1182-1184). Expressing some hope that new anti-AIDS drugs may lengthen the life of the HIV-infected, the author noted some problems that could come with living past an expected date of death.
These HIV patients have either never developed a career, or have interrupted it for years due to their infection. They have run up debts, sold their life insurance policy, and undertaken a chronic pharmaceutical bill amounting to thousands of dollars per year. Some applied for and received disability under the Social Security Administration.
Under present federal court rulings, anyone who has successfully argued with his government that he is disabled from any “substantial, gainful” work cannot then claim discrimination from a potential employer under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A claimant would first have to let go of his grip on the federal disability benefits, which is not popular in his economic straits. It is called a “catch-22.” The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is said to be seeking to relieve the situation by special dispensation allowing one to be officially totally and permanently disabled on the one hand, and yet discriminated against illegally when not accepted for employment on the other hand.
The catch-22 here would seem rather to apply to the hapless employer, who must pay taxes to support the “disabled” and yet also pay wages to these same “disabled.” Employers, of course, are widely known to be unscrupulous and hard-hearted, so their dilemma is unworthy of mention. The victimized HIV are not held responsible. The author further points out that “people with HIV who are substance abusers or homeless find it nearly impossible to follow medication schedules….” The passive phraseology, as if they awoke to “find themselves” in an earthquake-collapsed building, is unwarranted.
If the substance abuser chose not to abuse substances he might find it much more possible to follow a medication schedule. Why may not an employer be compassionately understood? Why may not the employer “find himself” unable to employ a disabled person? Why is his action going to be illegal, as soon as the federal government figures out how to extricate itself from contradictions of its own making? Who are these people that think that mercy and compassion should and can be made matters of compulsion and civil law?
Ironically, the author began her essay with an explicit reference to the resurrection of Lazarus, who, she says, did not have to concern himself with a large credit card bill or going back to work while maintaining a complex medication regimen. Methinks she missed some points regarding Lazarus. Whom Jesus saves, He saves. Jesus healed Lazarus.
Modern medicine much more often palliates and delays, if not actually just dithers around with dangerous drugs. This point is often missed by those who too glibly equate Jesus’ healing miracles with medicine’s healing intentions and practices. Sanctification proceeds, and had Lazarus a prior drug habit, after his resurrection he would have “found himself” under conviction by the Holy Spirit on the matter, not excused into impotence and perpetual dependency. Furthermore, we do not know what were the financial circumstances into which Lazarus was returned when he was resurrected.
Ms. Voelker cannot be accused of underrating the importance of her topic. She quotes a California psychologist who claims that socially, economically, and psychologically “[new anti-AIDS drugs] and HIV will define America and its values.” (Emphasis added). Only for a nation whose society, economics, and psychology is not rooted in Biblical religion could this appear to be so. A nation which could be defined by one disease and the chemical used to fight it is surely one coming under God’s judgment. HIV and its drugs may substantially exemplify or mark what we are nationally. The definition, however, would have to be “Godless.”
Legalized Murder In Holland
“Virtually every guideline set up by the Dutch — a voluntary, well-considered, persistent request; intolerable suffering that cannot be relieved; consultation; and reporting of cases — has failed to protect patients or has been modified or violated.” So says an article on physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia (surprisingly) published in JAMA.* The commentary article looks closely at data from another article and concludes that the Dutch are indeed sliding down a slippery slope in euthanasia.
Euthanasia deaths increased from 1.9% to 2.3% between 1990 and 1995, amounting to about a thousand deaths from euthanasia in Holland in 1995. Regulatory “safeguards” are often ignored. In about 0.7% of the deaths in Holland, “physicians admitted they actively caused death without the explicit consent of the patient.” When all deaths are totaled — assisted suicide as well as euthanasia with and without consent — the toll may run as high as 4.7% of all deaths in that nation, and climbing.
A doctor ended the life of a nun in excruciating pain because her religious convictions would not allow her to ask to be put to death. Another patient who had said she did not want euthanasia was killed anyway. The physician said, “It could have taken another week before she died. I just needed this bed.” A healthy 50-year-old woman, who lost her son recently to cancer, became depressed, refused treatment for depression, and said she would accept help only in dying…” Her psychiatrist helped her commit suicide within four months of her son’s death.
There is no right way to do a wrong thing. There is no way to “regulate” murder.
The Reformation, once so strong in Holland as to be substantial salt in society, clearly is not now. What an opportunity for those Christians who remain in medicine there — to promise their patients that they will not under any circumstances assist in murder! As the dead bury their dead, perhaps they could take a lesson as they glance over into another community and see how they love one another, and God.
* Hendin, Herbert, Rutenfrans, et al, “Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in the Netherlands: Lessons from the Dutch,” The Journal of the American Medical Association, June 4, 1997, pp. 1720-1722.
Larry Dossey, M.D., has written six books and “has been in demand” as a lecturer on the premise that “people who are prayed for heal faster than those who are not.”
“I began to go to my office early every day and invented a prayer ritual for my hospitalized patients as well as those coming to the office that day. The prayers were non-specific. I simply entered a meditative frame of mind and prayed for the best to happen. I did not ask specifically for the cancer or heart problem to go away.” (Ed’s emphasis)
Dr. Dossey considers prayer “complementary therapy.” He became the first cochairman of the National Institutes of Health’s Panel on Mind/Body Interventions for The Office of Complementary and Alternative Medicine. In one of his books, he cites 131 studies in the “general area of prayer” that “present a compelling case for the power of the mind.” (Hippocrates, May 1997, pp. 24-28)
Commentary: It is amazing the extent to which people will borrow from the Truth. Christianity, more than any other religion, has prayer as one of its core activities. But prayer for Christians is not just for material things, like healing, but worship, praise, thanksgiving, confession, direction for one’s life, etc.
Moreover, Christian prayer requires a Mediator to plead our prayers before God. And, prayers must be made by those who are born-again through salvation in Christ. This specificity of design and context are in stark contrast to Dr. Dossey’s prayers which are “general” and are no more than “mind/body” experiences.
This article gives no indication that Dr. Dossey is a professing Christian. Indeed, it give specific evidence that he believes in no supernatural person, only some epiphenomenon (my word) or “Force” (my word). He has not given up the worship of science because he became convinced of prayer through “studies.”
However, even professing Christians are caught up in this scientific and generic approach to prayer. I have previously written of Dr. David Larsen and the National Institute for Healthcare Research (Reflections, May 1997). The Christian Medical and Dental Society has promoted this approach on occasion. There are others.
The quest to “prove” that prayer is efficacious is a denial of one’s faith in the Bible. It is a serious misunderstanding of “proof” both evidentially and philosophically. It is a naive hope to convince secularists that Christians are not duped in their belief in prayer.
The proof of prayer, as Abraham Kuyper stated, has a two-fold starting point: regeneration of one’s heart, and inerrant, infallible Scripture. This same starting point provides the basis for proof of all Christian actions. We live in a generic age. It is the spirit of New Age and world-oneness (better described in the Bible as the spirit of this “world” and the Angel of Light). Many Christians have fallen prey to it. They fail to understand the nature of truth and the limited vision of the unregenerate mind.
May I be so bold? Prayer, outside of Biblical parameters, invokes the occult by definition. Prayer is to a supernatural power, be it generic or a person. It is giving Satan another portal of access into man’s world. As such, prayer is not “for the good of patients,” but for increased evil.
This prayer is another example that medicine is inherently religious. Generic prayer may make patients “better,” but it is Biblically unethical and dangerous. Duped Christians are actually aiding and abetting the Enemy and denying their Lord.
“At your age, with your high cholesterol, what’s your risk of a first heart attack?” Thus began theadvertisement in Parade magazine, which goes to hundreds of newspapers in the country each Sunday.
Following that question was a point list by which one could determine his/her risk. If one had a total of 4 or more points, one “could be at above average risk of a first heart attack.”
What was the first “risk?” Sex and age. All men over 50 get 4 risk points. Other risk points included: family history, inactive lifestyle, weight, smoking, diabetes, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. (Parade, September 14, 1997, pp. 18-19)
Commentary: This check list was an advertisement for Pravachol, “the only cholesterol-lowering drug of its kind proven to help prevent first heart attacks” (ad’s emphasis).
I don’t know how many men in the United States are over 50, but every one of them by this check list has at least four points based upon age alone. All these men by this “scientific method” should be on Pravachol. It does not matter how healthy you are in every other way, you are “at risk” for a first heart attack and need Pravachol.
Thus, a disease has been created simply by being in a particular age group. Dear readers, such subtle advertising will create millions of dollars of income for Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, the makers of Pravachol. And, the ad is endorsed by the American Heart Association.
This ad is fear-mongering for profit at its worst. Yes, the drug has been shown to reduce heart attacks but minimally and by the application of strict criteria (which will not be applied by physicians to most patients).
One estimate is that the prevention of one death from a heart attack would cost $858,000 for a man and $3.4 million for a woman. (The New England Journal of Medicine, May 16, 1997, p. 1333)
This misrepresentation and malpractice is what happens when one worships physical life and the god, Medical Science. Thus, modern medicine blunders down the broad road with blinders in place.
Since 1989, Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia, has refused to tell pregnant women the sex of their baby until after the 20th week of pregnancy. The reason? Abortion in Canada, as well as the sonogram, are “free” under their pre-paid system. Women can abort with no questions asked before those 20 weeks. So, if the sex of the baby is not what the mother wanted, then she can have an abortion.
“Nobody involved in ultrasound,” says Roger Goodall, a Vancouver gynecologist who speaks for Vancouver’s 160 ob/gyns, “wants to be in the position of doing sex determination so people can go right away and have an abortion if the fetus is not the right sex.” However, some patients cross the border into the United States, find out the sex of their unborn babies, and then go back to Canada to abort them. (Chicago Tribune, August 3, 1997, Section 13, pp. 1, 8)
Commentary: A simple solution is to make abortion illegal!
A lesbian used the sperm from a “longtime friend” to become impregnated and has allowed her partner to adopt the baby. The “friend” now claims parental rights over the baby. (Chicago Tribune, August 12, 1997, Section 1, pp. 1, 8)
Commentary: As Dr. Terrell said elsewhere in this newsletter (“Terrell’s Treatises”), “There is no right way to do a wrong thing.” With the absence of right and wrong in American law, as well as ethics, this case will be decided by the power of the judiciary, “Might makes right.”
“Chicago scientists didn’t set out with an elbow obsession to rearrange anatomy willy-nilly, but they did begin with the notion that nature’s design of the human knee was flawed.
“Because natural evolution depends upon incremental changes in the structures of existing animals, it is limited in the materials and designs available to accommodate new functions. Working up from crawling, hopping reptiles to four-legged mammals to two-legged primates that walk upright proved a major challenge for the natural evolution of the knee.” (Chicago Tribune, August 24, 1997, Section 5, pp. 1, 6)
Commentary: With this introduction, this article proceeds to tell of a design for a new prosthetic knee joint. We in medicine have heard such wonderful descriptions before, and the product is rarely as good as its claim. Even if it is, these comments show the inherent belief in evolution that is a tightly held tenet of modern medicine.
Vol. 11, No. 6 (72) September 1997
The budget of the National Institutes of Health in total amounts is one way to reflect its priorities. Its funding per patient who has the disease in the American population is another. On this basis, funding is: HIV/AIDS ($2403), breast cancer ($209), Alzheimer’s disease ($78), Parkinson’s disease ($34), heart disease ($20), and diabetes ($20). (Vital Stats, July 1997, p. 3, commenting from an article from the April 26, 1997 Lancet)
Commentary: Many people look to science for answers today. But, how does science determine how research money is spent? That science can answer ethical questions (which is what determination of funding is) is philosophically untenable. The funding priorities of the NIH clearly show the moral and political biases that control the purse strings.
(1) In 1995, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that sexually transmitted diseases accounted for 87 percent of all newly reported infections!
“The Institute of Medicine has just issued a major report titled The Hidden Epidemic…. It estimates the overall economic cost in 1994 at nearly $17 billion. Although STDs cause untold suffering and death for millions of Americans, the report says awareness of the risks is dangerously low, and nothing is being done on a national scale to heighten it.” (Accuracy in Media Report, January-A 1997)
(2) The CDC, alarmed at increasing rates of HIV/AIDS in women, has launched prevention and research activities towards this population. These efforts include: counseling and testing for pregnant women, sexual “health” seminars, a female condom project, and support groups for those infected. (HIV/AIDS Prevention, July 1997, pp. 3-4, 14)
Commentary: I have a preventive strategy! Put on a seminar with each freshman class at all colleges and universities showing the statistics on sexually transmitted diseases, present graphic descriptions of the effects of these diseases, have a physician honestly describe what treatments are and are not available, and introduce testimonies from students whose lives have been destroyed by these diseases. After this seminar, have student health services track the incidence of STDs for the next year. What do you think the result would be?*
As stated above, “awareness of risks is dangerously low.” Student health services and administrations virtually guarantee the spread of STDs on campus with their current policies of open dorms, dishonesty about treatment of STDs, birth control and condoms given to anyone who asks, and sex “education” (if any exists).
And, thus the “hidden epidemic” continues. The obvious is not allowed to be said, and political correctness paves the ways for this continued epidemic. Might, “Just say no” be more effective?
* Obviously, sexually transmitted diseases would still occur, but I would at least expect some reduction. My program would be far more effective than all the tiptoeing around the real issues that occurs today. After all, fear is a deterrent to behavior.
“New data released by the CDC this July seemed to present pessimists with the ultimate challenge. For the first time, in addition to the plummeting death rates for men with AIDS, the number of women dying from AIDS was no longer slowly growing or holding steady — it was decreasing….
“Yet on the July 14th ABC World News Tonight, Peter Jennings termed ‘the good news and the not-good news about AIDS today.’ A July 20th New York Times story about the new AIDS numbers was headlined, ‘The Better Half Got the Worse End.’ The gist of the complaint is that, while AIDS death rates fell a remarkable 17% over the previous year, they fell ‘only’ 7% for women, and thus represent ‘bad’ or at least ‘not good’ news.” (Vital Stats, August 1997, p. 3)
Commentary: It is the nature of the news to be negative. But, with AIDS, the news must always be that of a victim class, an epidemic that threatens everyone, and never enough money for those already infected. Further, researchers in both the private and academic settings depend upon bad news for continued funding. Thus, even if the last AIDS patient were cured and HIV spread prevented by a vaccine, the news would still be bad because of the potential threat of another outbreak!
“Researchers compared people who became infected with HIV between 1985 and 1989 with those who became infected after 1989. Those with more recent infections had a higher probability of decline in immune system function and a faster progression in AIDS than those who had been infected in the 1980s.” (Advance/Laboratory, June 1997, p. 17, reported from the British Medical Journal, 314:1232-1237, 1997)
Commentary: Stay tuned! This virus has an uncanny ability to “adapt itself to individual immune systems.” I continue to doubt any major changes in its route of infection or its pathological effects. However, some variations are to be expected with any infectious agent — perhaps more so with this rapid mutator.
At the AAPS meeting where I participated in a panel discussion (see front page of this newsletter), Dr. Paul Byrne presented the physiological defense that “brain death” is a misnomer, created to allow transplantation of major organs. I review only a few of his points here, but his talk was thorough and, I think, indisputable. You can obtain an audio or video tape from AAPS, 1601 N. Tucson Blvd., Suite 9, Tucson, AZ 85716.
First, and foremost, brain death is a nebulous and changing concept, adaptable to moral and political agendas. Beyond that, a brain-dead body continues to retain almost all its functions (not too different from deficits and deformities caused by disease and aging). The skin blanches, and blood flow returns after pressure. The endocrine system still coordinates complex functions throughout the body. Food is digestible. Pregnant women have carried and delivered live babies after being brain dead. And so on.
All these functions are quite different from a cadaver in which all functions have ceased to exist. Dr. Byrne’s point is that it is the removal of the heart (or lungs) that causes the death of the donor. The person is alive until that happens.
Commentary: The presence of life and death are foundational Biblical (moral) issues. The presence of the human soul is the presence of human life. However, since we have no direct method to detect the presence of the soul, then we are left with physiological parameters.
I remember the moment about 10 years ago when I first grasped the error of “brain death.” However, I was greatly impacted by Dr. Byrne’s talk as to the profundity of this issue. I have not taken a sufficiently hard stand against the concept of brain death.
The issue corresponds to the unborn (abortion), and indeed, the presence of life throughout its course. Since the Garden of Eden, no human body has been without its defects, from skin blemishes to missing limbs to holes in the heart to the absence of the cerebral cortex in anencephalics. But, regardless of defects or absence of specific functions, they are alive and they must not be killed, even to “save” others.
We must take as hard a stand against the concept of brain death as against abortion. The same principles apply.
However, that stand may not preclude heart (or other organ) transplantation. Jesus said, “Greater love than this has no one, that anyone should lay down his soul (life) for his friends” (John 15:13). What is the difference between a soldier’s throwing his body over a grenade to save his buddies and a person’s donating his heart to someone else? Or, a family who has moral responsibility for a severely brain injured person to decide to donate the heart to someone else?
Answers to these questions, however, do not depend upon brain death, but upon considerations of love for others and moral responsibility within families. These are new looks at old issues for me. Let’s think through them carefully.
“Recent approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of abortifacient drugs and the publication of protocols for their use make medical abortion a procedure that most family physicians can now consider offering to their patients.” (American Family Physician, August 1997, pp. 351-364, 533-538)
While RU-486 (mifepristone) is not yet on the U.S. market, a combination of methotrexate followed by misoprostol “are more than 90 percent effective in terminating pregnancies of less than seven weeks gestation.” Methotrexate has been around for decades. Misoprostol has been around less time. However, only recently have the two been used in combination to cause abortion.
Two editorials appear along with the “how to” article. The intent of the editorials are obvious: to present the case that abortion is opposed by a significant number of family physicians. After all, medical abortion is not “merely a medical procedure,” but a “moral issue… because abortion takes the life of a baby after it has begun.”
The editorials have a positive value. Heretofore, the American Association of Family Physicians (AAFP), has generally taken a “neutral” position, allowing little discussion in its publications about abortion, and certainly not allowing a pro-life point of view to be presented. This editorial is clearly pro-life and will take much criticism from some AAFP members over its being published.
However, beyond that pro-life position, the article is “praising by faint damns.” It says that pro-choicers (a term that is itself ingratiating) want abortion to be “rare,” when they do nothing to make it less frequent than it is. Indeed, they do the opposite. This desire to “make it rare” and the pro-life position to “‘make it illegal’ are not that far apart.” Oh? I believe each represents opposite sides of an unbreachable chasm.
Other sops are tossed to the “pro-choice” crowd. The argument that the “developing baby is not a person” is infrequently presented. “Abortion rights of today do not conflict with the Constitution.” “Society should not sit in judgment on a pregnant woman who decides an abortion is justified in her situation.” “The high rate of abortions in the United States is evidence of a social failure.”
Abortion is murder. Pro-abortionists are vehemently opposed to any lessening of the liberal abortions laws in this country, as evidenced by their defense of third-trimester abortions.
I withdrew from the AAFP because of their acceptance of abortion, homosexuality, and other such policies. (Neutrality is a myth!) I also withdrew because they have failed to endorse theirreason d’etre, the Biblical family.When a medical organization will not condemn the killing of 1.5 million unborn children a year, all the health and medical care that it can otherwise provide is virtually meaningless. The life expectancy of a conceived child who would otherwise live to term and expect to live 75 years becomes 43 years.
Within the AAFP, a few have been allowed a voice because they pad their barbs of condemnation to the point that consciences are not bothered. These editorials are a slight loosening of the stranglehold of the AAFP towards abortion, but it is a pitiful step after 24 years and 36 million abortions.
We must be careful only to proclaim God’s judgment. It is difficult to imagine Jesus saying on Judgment Day, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” to those who have eased the consciences of their colleagues by softening language towards grave evils clearly condemned by Scripture.