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Biblical Reflections on Modern Medicine

Vol. 7, No. 4 (40) 

Contents:


You Take the High Road and I'll Take the Low Road

or

Do You Associate High Costs with Government Regulation?

"ValuJet's fall may raise prices" reads a headline in today's paper (Augusta Chronicle, June 19, 1996, p. 5C). While I have pounded the association of the high cost of medical care with government regulation, I could not resist this high-profile story to make the point again.

While ValuJet may have had incidents that violated the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) standards, the crash in the Florida Everglades resulted in its first fatalities. Early indications of the cause of the crash have nothing to do with poor maintenance of ValuJet's airplanes, but with its cargo. Yet, the airline has been hounded relentlessly by the media, and the government has responded to this feeding frenzy by shutting the airline down.

As tragic as that crash was, however, a greater tragedy is taking place in the airline industry that will likely cost the lives of many more people than that crash. Yet, rarely will any association will ever be made between these later deaths and government regulation, just as the high cost of medical care is rarely associated with government regulation.

High Cost = Government Regulation

Dear readers, burn this section title into your associations of cause and effect. I eat an apple almost every day for lunch. My wife tells me they sell for $1.50 a pound. (I never go grocery shopping.) A few years ago they were $0.30 a pound. Remember the alar scare? No matter that millions of apples were screened with only traces of alar (the toxicity of which is highly questionable). However, the American public must be protected from the remotest chance of chemical harm. So, we pay five times (at least) what apples would cost in a free market.

Now, in an attempt to be fair, government regulation is not the only cause of high costs. Scarcity ebbs and flows. Adam Smith's supply and demand does cycle. However, the free market responds to high prices with more entrepreneurs to produce those high-priced goods. With increased production and competition, the price falls. So, a statement that comes very close to being absolute is that sustained high prices are caused only by restricted markets, i.e., government regulation

Lives Saved and Lives Lost

"But Ed," some of you who are not yet believers (in this reality), "The FAA and other government regulations save lives." My answer, "NO! NO! NO! You see, the consequences of the regulations are rarely examined.

Many years ago, some "high-thinking officials" decided that all children on airlines ought to be required to have their own seat and not sit in the laps of their parents. They believed that lives would be saved by this requirement. However, in this case, they did consider the consequences.

They found that more children would die in automobile crashes because parents who could not afford the additional seats for their children would choose to drive instead of fly!

Might this same scenario be taking place today? With ValuJet's demise, its low cost competition is lost in the airline industry. As the Chronicle headline says, prices may (will) rise. More people will choose to stay home, a loss of revenue to the airlines. More people will drive, at greater risk of harm than flying on ValuJet.

"But, I Want to Fly Anyway!"

Of considerable interest are the passengers who never left ValuJet's counters even in the hours following the crash. They were quite willing to take the risk, but "Father (Uncle Sam) knows best." He knows better than any individual or family what is good and bad for everyone.

Don't miss the myth and the truth here. The myth is that government regulation makes an industry safer. The truth is that government regulation raises costs and often (usually, always?) causes even greater harm with unintended consequences.

Cost Is Not the Only Issue

I am not hung up on the cost of medical care. If a person has the money, he can spend a fortune on medical care as far as I am concerned (as long as the purchases are Biblically ethical). However, cost is the number one driving force in American medical care today. Huge, rapid changes are taking place in physicians' and hospitals' practices.

If physicians fail to diagnose correctly, they will further harm the patient and prevent what help may have been possible. Virtually all "officials" and leaders have misdiagnosed what ails American medicine (or they are protecting their power bases). Few Christians understand either.

These are dark days for medical care in America. The patient has been misdiagnosed. He has tubes in every bodily orifice and dozens of others through puncture wounds. He is dying and his estate with him.

With his death, one could hope that lessons would be learned. However, there is little indication that the perception of "what is" as "what ought to be" will be seen by enough people to evoke needed changes. But, dear readers, if you can just learn that "high cost = government regulation" and teach others, then perhaps understanding will grow towards a brighter day ahead.

Addendum

I found the following after I wrote the above article:

"U. S. businesses spend about $600 billion per year complying with all the rules and laws imposed by government. The cost is disproportionately high for small businesses. For firms with 500 or more workers, regulations cost $2,921 per worker. For those with 20 to 499 workers, the costs average $5,195 per worker. For those with fewer than 20 employees, the costs are about $5,545 per employee. A poll by the National Manufacturers Association showed that 52% of mid-sized firms consider government regulation their biggest challenge. (NCPA Policy Digest, April 30, 1996, ncpa@onramp.net, reprinted in Civil Defense Perspectives, May 1996, p. 2)

Also, see Briefs with Commentary, "State-mandated health benefits...."

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

I have never been impressed with state and national prayer breakfasts or opening prayers at legislative sessions. They seem to be a way that "Christians" of all stripes can show themselves as being "religious" and "moral," while being a part of a virtually godless government. Perhaps, these events are an opportunity for a Biblical witness that might not otherwise exist. Occasionally, God does break through with His witness.

Pastor Joe Wright of Wichita's Central Christian Church prayed the following as the Invocation of the Kansas House of Representatives on January 23, 1996. If anyone wants a model for a "Lord's prayer" in our modern American culture, this is it!

"Heavenly Father, we come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that's exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.

"We confess that: We have worshiped other gods and called it multiculturalism. We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

"We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building esteem. We have abused power and called it political savvy. We have coveted our neighbors' possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.

"Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin, and set us free."

"Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state. Grant them Your wisdom to rule, and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your will. I ask it in the name of Your Son, the Living Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen." 

Copied from NAE Washington Insight, May 1996.

And You Thought You Were Free: Medical Fascism in Action

Franklin Sanders

Ed's Note: The following is reprinted with permission from the Money-changer. The owner and Editor, Franklin Sanders, is making a Special Offer to Reflections subscribers of "26 bucks" off his usual subscription price of "95 bucks" (i.e., $69.00 to you). Address: P. O. Box 341753, Memphis, TN 38184-1753.

I highly recommend the Moneychanger to you. It is one of the few publications for which I find the first available time to read it. While its primary focus is gold and silver investments as the only trustworthy monetary standard, Franklin ranges to a wide variety of subjects, including alternative medicine, national and world events, cultural diversions and perversions, his personal encounter with a SWAT team and the IRS, and his disobedient dog, Jack.

The following is typical of his "food for thought."

------------------------------

On 3/25/96, the Commercial Appeal ran a front-page story about the possibility of new & expanded hospitals in eastern Shelby County. Our county lies in the southwest corner of Tennessee. Since Memphis lies right on the Mississippi River, development can only proceed eastward, toward Germantown & Collierville.

Once a small village, Collierville has grown (rapidly) in recent years, but still lacks a hospital. The Baptist Hospital wants to build a 60-bed facility in Collierville, & Methodist wants to expand its 120-bed unit next door on the west in Germantown.

Hold on, Comrades! Nyet! Iss no building hospital without permit!

Before they can spend $55 million to build hospitals, these two groups must secure approval from the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission (or Commissar, I don't know which). "Without construction approval, hospital construction or expansion cannot begin. ... To win approval, Methodist & Baptist must demonstrate that their proposals contribute to the orderly [?!?] development of area [?!?] health care, carry a reasonable [?!?] price tag, & would provide needed [?!?] services, rather than simply duplicating existing ones."

There are several red herrings here, but no one will mention, let alone discuss, the genuine principles & presuppositions. First & foremost, hospitals & "health care" have already been cartelized into a fascist system, & their first concern is to kill the competition. Do you mean to say that if my church, or I as an individual, wanted to build a hospital in Collierville, I couldn't do it? That's exactly what I mean. Existing providers have completely shut out competition by law. I reckon if you started building a hospital, the state would send out the Health Care Gestapo to arrest your brick masons & electricians & plumbers. Okay, Mother Theresa, you're building a hospital without a permit. Get in the paddy wagon. You're going downtown.

Just look at the morass of unspoken assumptions in the quotation above. "Orderly" development? Whose order? Who judges? "Reasonable" price tag? Reasonable to whom? To the suffering citizens of Collierville who have no local hospital? To the entrepreneurs who want to satisfy their need? "Needed services"? Needed in whose eyes? This is a monstrosity of totalitarian dictatorship, & it's your life that's at stake! Don't think for a minute, either, that this fascism is limited to Tennessee. It has spread its hideous tentacles into every nook & cranny of our land "Outrage" is too narrow, too pale a word to describe such tyranny among a free people.

This fascist system belongs to a drive by insurance companies to usurp control of your health care. Unhappily, too many doctors have gone along because they're reluctant (or afraid) to have their income dragged out in public, knowing the politicians & insurance industry will attack them with the politics of envy. Of course, some of them work 18 to 20 hours a day, so that the only enjoyment they get out of those big earnings is driving their Mercedes from hospital to hospital to office, but never mind that. Never mind, either, that the executives who run those HMOs make six or eight or ten million a year. That's progress, not greed.

Other physicians have given up & transferred their loyalty to HMOs & insurance companies. Of course, they have little choice. The doctor will do what the payers say, or they'll kick him out & then where will he practice? 

Professional credentials & due process have nothing to do with it. There will be no hearing, no examination of causes, nothing -- just the blacklist for the mavericks who refuse to transfer their loyalty from their patients to insurance companies, politicians, & HMOs.

People don't realize what is happening to them. Under this system "gatekeeper" doctors are now being paid NOT to send you to the right doctors. After all, when you have pulmonary problems, you won't mind seeing a "gatekeeper" rather than a pulmonary specialist, will you? It will be much cheaper -- for the insurance company.

Merciful heavens! When will Americans wake up & kick off these chains? What in the world is wrong with you? "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains & slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!" 

Though He slay me,
     yet will I trust Him. Job 13:15

On Pap Smears, Prevention, and Prevarication

Hilton P. Terrell, Ph.D., M.D.

A recently published study1 reviewed research on the effectiveness of screening women for cancer of the vagina after they had their uteruses removed for reasons other than a cancer. Amazingly, many physicians continue to do Pap smears on women who have no uterus, having had the organ removed for reasons other than cancer. Maybe as many as 11% of Pap smears are done on women in this category.

The Pap smear has been held up as the model screening test for years. However, it has been a model for detection of cancer of the cervix of the uterus, not of the vagina. The two types of cancer, though in close physical proximity, are vastly different in their frequency and behavior. The Pap smear has never been shown to be an effective screening test for cancer of the vagina. Given the frequency of both hysterectomies and Pap smears in the United States, the matter is not a small one. Perhaps one-third of all women have had a hysterectomy by age 60, and there are about 44 million Pap smears done every year in this country. The authors calculate that about five and a half million Pap are smears done annually on women who have no uterus, at a charge of $43 million.

Physicians provide all sorts of excuses for the bizarre practice of pretending to be able to find the one woman in about 100,000 who has a vaginal cancer. "Women won't come in for other checks if we don't do a Pap smear." "A cancer of the cervix or the uterus might have spread to the vagina and not have been noticed when the uterus was removed." "I don't like any of my patients to die of any malignancy."

None of these excuses hold water. Ovarian cancer deaths are about 19 times more common than vaginal cancer deaths, yet no one has been able to sustain an argument that we can screen and prevent ovarian cancer deaths. The ovaries are usually the other organs indicated when a health maintenance pelvic examination is done by a doctor after a hysterectomy. Using a Pap smear as a come-on to get women in to do another ineffective test is not very impressive. The probability of a cancer of the vagina is so low that, even if a Pap smear indicates one may be present, the odds that one really is present are still less than one in 100. This is because the inevitable inaccuracy of the test interacts with the very low frequency of the disease. To make the practice even more indefensible, about 80% of all cancers of the vagina are a cancer that has spread from some other organ. Such spread makes the probability of a cure even lower. So, in the rare event that such a cancer is found after sorting through 4000 false positives, it is less likely to be curable. The whole purpose of screening is to find disease in curable stages.

With an understatement typical of professional journals, the authors concluded, "There is insufficient evidence to recommend routine vaginal smear screening in women who have undergone a total hysterectomy for benign disease, i.e., no history of premalignant or malignant genital disease, and no history of maternal [diethylstilbestrol - DES] exposure." The understatement borders on hyper-wimpiness. There is, likewise, insufficient evidence that furniture polish can grow scalp hair, that Cessnas can double as ball point pens, or that Bosnia could be towed to the South Pacific. In a profession which accepts FDA requirement of positive evidence of drug effectiveness before use, why are we so tentative about such worse-than-worthless testing?

One answer can be found by reference back to the $43 million. Another answer has to do with the idolatry of modern medicine. We believe in our own deity if we believe we can reduce such small risks. Even if we could reduce them, the cost would divert resources from far more productive enterprises. Suppose someone proposed a method costing $43 million to prevent pedestrians from being run over by pink and purple polka dot trucks drive by left-handed Lutherans in New Jersey. It would be a joke. Pap smears in women who have had hysterectomies for non-malignant disease are in the same category, but no one laughs. We need some good stewards of Christ's creation to laugh the derisive holy laughter that holds such practices to scorn.

Reference

1. M. D. Fetters, G. Fischer, and B. D. Reed," Effectiveness of Vaginal Papanicolaou Smear Screening After Total Hysterectomy for Benign Disease," The Journal of the American Medical Association, March 27, 1996, pp. 940-947.

On Being Incompletely Pro-life

"We have a liver! We have a liver!" the transplant nurse shouted as she ran down the hall. And, thus the transplant was made -- and the story recounted in Celebrate Life (July-August 1996) -- and God was praised.

Celebrate Life is published by The American Life League (ALL), one of the major pro-life organizations. This story was told as God's intervention into the near death of a woman with a failing liver. Yet, the ethical issues were never examined. Issues that are questionably "pro-life."

1) A liver transplant must come from a patient who is alive. Yes, the patient has had some major trauma from which he will not recover. However, at the time that the liver (and usually heart, lungs, and other organs) is taken, he is alive. What, then, is the cause of death? The removal of these vital organs.

2) What patient with end-stage liver disease elsewhere did not receive this liver? What re-arrangements on the donor list were made to get the liver for this patient at the last minute?

3) Curiously, ALL has vigorously pushed their "Loving Will" in place of "Living Wills" so that a person with an "illness or injury" will receive medical treatment "in favor of continued life." By this "will" and other statements, ALL and other pro-life organizations have defended continuing medical care for people in coma, the persistent vegetative state, and other severe, chronic conditions. I guess that this concern for continued medical care does not apply to persons who have viable donor organs.

The bottom line is that "pro-life" is an incomplete ethic. It fails to address capital punishment, self-defense, just war, the limitations of medical treatment, and here, organ transplantation. While God is praised, His principles about life are not even addressed. Such praise is more a worship of personal desire for life and the end justifies the means -- a worship that is as false as idol worship.

"Pro-life" also embraces psychology with its "diagnosis" of "post abortion syndrome" and other psychological labels that are purely humanistic and guilt-avoiding. (Guilt can be fully and completely left at the foot of the cross.)

"Pro-life" is an incomplete ethic. Perhaps, the pro-life movement has been a valuable force against abortion. But, it is also a present and long-term danger to Christians because its focus is too narrow and limited, blurring a complete and consistent Biblical ethic. 

May I muse for a moment? What if all the Christians who are active in the pro-life movement for these 23 years (since Roe v. Wade) had been acting as the prophets of old and the Apostle Paul in the streets and public assemblies proclaiming "Thus saith the Lord!" instead of platitudes proving that life begins at conception and abortions harms individuals and society.

I don't know. If we chose the lesser path, I condemn myself. But, may we at least ponder whether we underestimate the power of speaking Biblical truth, even in a (so-called) post-Christian, post-modern, and all-is-relative culture. Are we as much victims of "what-is is what-ought-to-be" relative to Christian truth as we are of "what-is is what-ought-to-be" in medicine? I wonder. I really wonder. (See "Lord, Teach Us to Pray.")

Briefs with Commentary

"Need Summer Help? It May Be Hard to Find."

"The number of 16- to 24-year olds searching for summer jobs will be smaller through July.... Declines in both youth population and anticipated rates of labor force participation are to blame for the shrinkage." (Research Recommendations, June 10, 1996, p. 1)

Commentary: Roe v. Wade, allowing abortion on demand, was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court 23 years ago. Might there be a connection with these decreased job applicants? Only that there would be 12 million more youths available had they not been "ultimately abused" by their mother, American medicine, and American law.

Some Facts on Federal Spending

The National Academy on Aging notes that defense spending by the federal government in 1953 was 14.3%. It is now 3.9%. Health and retirement spending have increased from 10% in 1950 to 30% in 1970 and 50% today. Interest on the federal debt plus health and retirement spending now make up two-thirds of all federal spending. (Reported in AAPS News [Legislative Supplement], July 1996, p. cS2)

Commentary: The "right to medical care" has become the right to financial disaster at the federal level. At the individual level, it has become confiscatory taxation. Just as with welfare spending, there is no overall increase in the health of the American people. Indeed, I think that it has declined. Modern man thinks that he is so enlightened, but it is beyond rationality to spend so much with no real benefit. Slavery might at least be tolerable if real increases in health had been achieved.

Update on Smallpox

"Last month (May 1996), which marked the 200th anniversary of Edward Jenner's first use of smallpox vaccine, 190 nations at the World Health Organization annual meeting approved destroying the remaining smallpox virus." (Chicago Tribune, June 1, 1996, Section 1, p. 16)

Commentary: I reported in a previous Reflections that debate continued over destruction of the virus. I said, "Destroy it." Now, the decision has finally been made. However, it will not happen until June 30, 1999, because of a 5 1/2 year moratorium established by WHO in 1993. Silly, silly. Do it now!

(I predict several novels over the secret confiscation of this virus by some mad scientist who releases it upon the world in 2020 when few people still have inoculated immunity. Let's hope that these novels are fiction!)

"State-mandates Hike Insurance Premiums"

"Studies estimate that (legislation mandating specific health-care benefits, e.g., 2-day stay for labor and delivery) makes up 21.3% of all claims payments in Virginia and 17.6% of those in Massachusetts." (Research Recommendations, May 20, 1996, p. 4)

Commentary: While I have commented on the increased costs of insurance regulated by states, these are specific figures on only one dimension of those costs. (See front page article.)

Limited Budgets Force "Good Medicine"

Commentary: I recently received an update on "Georgia Medicaid Reimbursement Guidelines." While it dealt with several categories of drugs, I want to focus on one "Not covered ... except through the approval for specific diagnoses." That non-covered item was the category of benzodiazepines (Valium, Librium, Xanax, Restoril, Dalmane, and Klonopin).

These drugs are commonly used to treat "anxiety" and insomnia. At one time, Valium produced the highest sales total of any prescribed drug. (Could there be some relation to the tens of millions spent on advertising this one drug to physicians?) The others in this list are prescribed by the millions of prescriptions -- yet, Georgia Medicaid says they are "not covered."

While I am against any state involvement in medicine, tight budgets do force critical thinking. These drugs are not really necessary to "good medical care." Thus, the state chooses not to pay for them, but use their limited money elsewhere. 

All that is happening with managed care is not bad. Restricted budgets cause closer scrutiny of spending and appropriate cuts are often made. Thus, costs are lowered. Yet, this limitation of costs could have been happening all along if physicians and patients thought critically. Since they did not, others are making the decisions for them. Right ends are being achieved by wrong methods.

Three Strikes Against the CDC

Commentary: If anyone doubts the political nature of American medicine, consider three major distortions (lies?) of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). 1) Their priorities concerning AIDS. "Condoms are the answer to the AIDS epidemic." "Everyone is at risk for AIDS." 2) Their coverup of abortion-related morbidity and mortality. (See book review.) 3) The harm of second-hand smoke. "It is possible that very few or even no deaths can be attributed to environmental smoke..." (Augusta Chronicle, June 10, 1996, p. 5A)

The CDC is supposed to the world's bastion against disease. If it generates lies and distortions of facts, is politically directed, is self-aggrandizing, and self-verifying, do you feel safe? 

We are really back to basics. Health, and therefore medical care, cannot be defined without religious presuppositions. If the state governs medicine, then the state will define medicine with its atheistic presuppositions. The CDC in its conspiracy to protect abortion and its other biased agendas has caused more deaths than it has prevented! Do you still wonder whether the state should control medicine?

Worship the Pill: Ritalin Again

"Ritalin (methylphenidate) is being prescribed for 3 to 5 percent of all U.S. schoolchildren to control often vaguely defined attention-deficit disorders known as ADD. Because most of these children are male (an explanation of their behavior in itself - Ed), this means that perhaps 10 percent of all boys in the U.S. between the ages of 6 and 14 are on the drug." (Chicago Tribune, February 29, 1996, Section 1, p. 19)

Commentary: Perhaps 20 to 30 years ago, there may have been some excuse for using Ritalin. ADD (then "hyperactivity") was being defined and various treatments experimented with. Today, however, there is no excuse for this prevalence of Ritalin!

The literature overwhelmingly describes ADD as far more a behavioral problem than a biochemical one. From a Biblical perspective, there is no excuse. This use of Ritalin is an indictment of a poorly disciplined children (both at home and school), a population that wants answers to the problems of living in a pill, and weak-kneed and ignorant physicians who are only too glad to prostitute themselves in this environment.

Now in my own mind, I have not completely ruled out Ritalin as being effective in some children. However, it ought not to be prescribed except under rigid guidelines for efficacy and with parents and teachers who are willing to structure change in their lives as well as the life of the child.

AMA Refuses to Endorse Physician-Assisted Suicide

This week the American Medical Association was challenged by some delegates to loosen their stand against physician-assisted suicide (PAS). The challenge failed. One reason had something to do with physicians being healers and not killers. (Various news sources)

Commentary: While I am thankful that the AMA defended their position, surely some grasp their gross inconsistency concerning abortion, infanticide, and even euthanasia. (While the AMA has not endorsed infanticide and euthanasia, neither have they condemned them, and at times, have spoken in ways that would advance their acceptance.) Recently, they even condemned the partial birth abortion bill, showing their own callous disregard for life.

One reads the American Medical News and the content is obvious that the leaders of the AMA are most concerned with their own economic welfare. After feeding at the private and federal trough almost without restriction for 20 years, they have been complaining about all their cutbacks for the past 10 years.

The AMA should receive only the strongest of condemnations. They have allowed, nay vigorously promoted, the death of millions by abortion. May God bring judgment on their house consistent with their actions.

Television: A Subtle Addiction?

"Television works on the same imaginative and intellectual level as psychoactive drugs. If prolonged television viewing makes the young passive (dozens of studies indicate that it does), then moving to drugs has a certain coherence. Drugs provide an unearned high (in contrast to the earned rush that comes from a feat accomplished, a human breakthrough earned by sweat or thought or love)." (The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Spring 1996, pp. 43-45)

Commentary: This article, written by Pete Hamil, a "nationally known journalist and novelist," links drug addiction to television. I have excerpted a short paragraph of a three-page article that goes into much more detail.

While the link to drug addiction may be too simplistic, the identification of television watching to addiction is a more important message. I once defined addiction as, "a repetitive, pleasure-seeking behavior that is habitual in spite of moral or physical reasons (i.e., harm) that should rationally preclude its practice and that displaces spiritual obligations" (Journal of Biblical Ethics in Medicine, Fall 1993, p. 98).

Upon this initial reflection about television as an addiction, I would say that it is more a killer of active thought and time, than a life-dominating problem such as drug addiction. (For some, it is surely life-dominating.) By contrast, television can be a tool for great good.

As a "brief," I introduce this subject only for your reflection. However, there is much here about which we must confess and change in our lives.

(For a copy of the article or issue in which it appeared, write Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation, 1803 East Willow Grove Ave., Glenside, PA 19038.)

Christian Alternatives to Medical Insurance Proliferate

Beginning with the Christian Brotherhood Newsletter, Christians have sought lower cost alternatives to traditional health insurance. Generally, they are structured on a voluntary basis where monthly payments are made either to a central office or to the individual (with a medical expense) directly. Their costs are lower than insurance because they require: no smoking, no involvement with illegal drugs, and not having sex outside of marriage. Some prohibit drinking entirely. Some require a high-deductible insurance policy in addition to their own coverage.

A recent article in World magazine (June 22/29, 1996, pp. 12-15) listed 5 groups: Christian Care Medi-Share in Mississippi; Samaritan Ministries in Greenfield, Indiana; the Christian Brotherhood Newsletter in Barberton, Ohio; All Saints in Tyler, Texas; and Helping Hands in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

Each group has specifics of its program that differ from the others. Complete addresses can be obtained from World, P. O. Box 2330, Asheville, NC 28802 or phone (704) 253-8063.

AIDS: Issues and Answers

Vol. 10, No. 4 (65) July 1996

Gobbledygook or AIDS-Speak

"Do people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have special responsibilities to their sexual partners?" (The New England Journal of Medicine, June 6, 1996, pp. 1540-1542)

Thus begins a (sort of) new chapter in AIDS morality. In this editorial, Ronald Bayer, Ph.D., strives to develop a new milestone in the morality of the AIDS epidemic. He acknowledges, "In the early years of the epidemic, the very idea of responsibility raised by these questions was viewed as alien and threatening. It was a concept more common to the moral and religious right."

Thus, the focus of AIDS prevention was on "self-responsibility."

However, "The emerging recognition of the limitations of self-protection reflects a growing awareness that new epidemiological trends demand a new approach to prevention... matters of sexual ethics are not moralistic diversions. They are at the heart of AIDS prevention."

Recently, a completely contrived and nonsensical article was published as a valid discussion in a well-respected professional journal. Its false discussion was revealed after publication. (I don't recall the actual journal.) This editorial on AIDS morality reminds me of that article.

Dr. Bayer seems to be trying to be moral without being moral -- a real challenge. Try this sentence. "Systematic behavioral research is essential, as is searching inquiry into the ethical and psychological underpinnings of intimate relationships." Huh?

While starting with a cliched denunciation of the "moral and religious right," he calls for "sexual responsibility" that is somehow different? Oh, please!

Dr. Bayer, in this prestigious journal, shows the emptiness of the AIDS-Speak for all the world to see. Unfortunately, all the world will not understand his circular reasoning and feigned avoidance of morality.

However, to those of us who do understand, the harsh reality of the behavior of fallen and sinful people has forced him to either accept the ongoing tragedy of the AIDS epidemic or adopt some kind of moral position. Until now, the pain of the latter exceeded the former. Perhaps, the old adage, "There are no atheists in foxholes," applies here. "There are no a-moralists who truly care for the welfare of others."

Universal Testing: AIDS Policy?

As I write this, tomorrow (June 27) is National HIV Testing Day. The National Association of People with AIDS and "several other groups" are "urging" individuals who have ever had unprotected sex or shared needles to undergo voluntary testing. "We're encouraging every single person to get tested," one spokesman said. (American Medical News, June 24, 1996, p. 8)

Commentary: Uh, excuse me. I thought that universal testing was a program of right-wing conservatives and Christians. Granted, this program is "voluntary," but its goal is clearly universal.

This program is a continued distortion of the myth that everyone is at risk for AIDS and on that basis, HIV is a primary medical concern for all Americans. Not so. (See "Three Strikes Against the CDC" in "Briefs...")

"Killer Tuberculosis Gains Power, Speed"

"Tuberculosis is spreading at a 'frightening' rate around the world, killing nearly 3 million people in 1995 and likely to kill 100 million in the next 50 years if trends continue, the World Health Organization said." (Chicago Tribune, March 22, 1996, Section 1, p. 14)

Commentary: What has TB got to do with AIDS? Tuberculosis had become a rare disease until the AIDS epidemic. The weak immune system of AIDS patients is a setup for infection with TB. Moreover, they are prone to MDR (multi-drug resistant) TB, a kind which is almost always fatal in spite of "multiple drug" treatment.

As I have often said often, HIV infection is almost entirely limited to risk behaviors. TB is not. Everyone is susceptible to TB, although general health will either prevent infection or wall it off so that it does not cause disease once it is in the body. In this way, AIDS does (potentially) affect everyone.

One caveat. About one-third of people who die of TB have AIDS. Thus, the numbers must be reduced by that figure. However, they are still of great concern.

There is another way in which AIDS enhances this the threat of TB. The funds spent on AIDS (to benefit a limited population) could be transferred to the diagnosis, treatment, and research of TB (to benefit everyone potentially). But, then, that is only rational (wishful) thinking on my part.

Book Review: A Must Read

Lime5 by Mark Crutcher, published by Life Dynamics, Inc., 1996, 318 pp. (See enclosed insert for ordering information.) "Lime5" is the name that a young woman was given at an abortion clinic in Tennessee in February 1992. (The author's explanation is that such labels "distance" the abortion workers from their "patients.") Her abortion was "botched," and she later sued, alleging improper and unethical practices as well.

I don't buy or read many books on abortion. Most add little to an already voluminous literature. My focus has always been to those areas where little Biblical effort is being directed. However, this book is a blockbuster.

Mr. Crutcher exposes the prevalence of sexual assaults and rape within the abortion industry. He lists more than 30 documented cases, and if his numbering method indicates separate individuals, then more than 800 abortionists have been tried or accused of sexual assault and/or rape. I was not aware of this sordid side of the abortion industry, but it is an expected consequence of people who would shred unborn children. Since the abortionist knows that his victims would want to hide their abortions, he knows that whatever he does to these women will likely remain hidden, as well.

The author exposes the Centers for Disease Control and their intended cover-up of abortion malpractice and deaths. Even the CDC admits that the collection and dissemination of abortion morbidity and mortality is "poor." The reason? While their staff in the Division of Reproductive Health has grown from 25 or 30 to almost 140, the staff to cover abortion mishaps has been reduced from 4-6 to 1-2. There is no AIDS coverup, only a distortion of the facts. There is a coverup of abortion-related injury and death.

Extreme bias is also present in the CDC's statistics. Codes for diagnoses often indicate that the injury/death resulted from a complication of pregnancy, not abortion. Pro-abortion researchers limit their citations to other pro-abortionists, never those who are pro-life. Practicing abortionists serve as head of the Abortion Surveillance Branch of the CDC, a violation of their own ethical standards of personal conflict of interest.

And more, much more. The abortion industry is a great modern evil. Personally, I cannot grasp the hardness of a human heart that would allow him or her to tear an unborn child limb from limb and head from body in any situation, much less as "sound medical practice."

However, it is characteristic of evil that it does not limit itself in its scope. Adultery requires lies and deceit. Lies require more lies to cover them up. Theft requires a great deal of lying and coverup. Abortion is a practice of multiple evils. It requires lies, distortion, conspiracy, and bias in an attempt to coverup its real nature. It leads to other evils of sexual assault, rape, and coverup of murder. Abortion, its practitioners, and its protectors are a complex web of dark, sinister evil.

That our society condones this evil is a condemnation of its moral values. For those who would know this reality, Mr. Crutcher has exposed this evil in its many forms.


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