Doctors Behaving Badly
“My bad”, as the expression goes. It is exactly six months since I updated this blog. We three are well and had great holidays, as I hope you all did. Two seemingly unrelated news items involving doctors prompt me to shake off the cobwebs and express my opinions.
Perhaps you’ve heard about the doctor, Kermit Gosnell, who was finally arrested after decades running an abortion mill in Philadelphia where he kept a museum of baby parts after systematically butchering not just early fetuses but fully developed infants capable of surviving outside the womb. Those born alive were murdered by snipping the spinal cord. His staff has also been arrested; none of the eight employees (as young as 15) had any medical training. Gosnell himself had no specialty training. His patients were almost all black, as is he, and poor, which he is decidedly not – his operation brought him a reported $1.8 million a year. At least two women died in his care.
Where was the government? Aren’t there agencies charged with oversight of such a “clinic?” Yes and no. You see, abortion is a “right” created out of thin air by the Supreme Court 38 years ago. Governors of both parties have deliberately refused to “interfere” in the exercise of abortion rights by women in Philadelphia and elsewhere. It was the stench, the rats, the rumors of both mother and baby deaths that finally brought down Kermit the Creep and his House of Horrors.
Clearly I am no fan of abortion. When the court ruling came down in 1973, my scientific training insulated me somewhat from the moral dimension of that decision. Most states had already ruled abortion legal in most cases, and there was the prevailing opinion (largely fictional) that “back-alley” or “coat-hanger” procedures were killing many women who would be safer in approved clinics. But it wasn’t long before abortion touched me personally and I dedicated myself to doing what I could to support the Pro-Life cause.
In the last four years I’ve been privileged to serve as Medical Director of the Pregnancy Counseling Center in Mission Hills. A year ago through the kindness of our donors we installed an ultrasound machine. I took an on-line course and became certified to oversee the work done by our wonderful nurses, and the Clinic even furnished me with an iPad so I could review the ultrasounds while away from the Valley. Our site is close to Planned Parenthood, the leading abortion provider in the country and the site of countless violations of law regarding failure to report incidents of rape, incest and human trafficking. Did you know that its founder, Margaret Sanger, was a Nazi sympathizer and spearhead of the eugenics movement in the 30s, which among other things sought to eliminate blacks? Today abortion is five times more prevalent in blacks as in whites. Jesse Jackson used to be pro-life, as was Dr. King (his niece Alveda is an outspoken pro-life advocate). But since the Reverend ran for president his politics changed. Eighteen million black babies have been aborted in the United States since 1973.
I’ve wandered off the subject, which I’m allowed to do because it’s my blog and I’m old and crotchety. But it is a source of shame to me that so few doctors will stand up for the most helpless, not just babies but the elderly, the disabled, the inconvenient among us. When Sarah Palin used the expression “Death Panels” to refer to Obama-Care, she struck a nerve. By appointing (without congressional approval) Dr. Donald Berwick as his czar, a man utterly committed to rationing medical care (but not for his family), Obama gave the game away. Families and personal physicians have done a fine job of making end-of-life decisions for decades. As a member of our Bio-Ethics Committee at Valley Presbyterian for many years I’ve seen this process up close. It works. It is always painful. It will not work better or be easier if government flunkies intrude in the picture.
Another instance of doctors abusing their authority and mandate has been showcased lately during the protests going on over budget shortfalls and unsustainable pensions and health benefits, especially in Wisconsin. Doctors have openly offered to sign excuses for hooky-playing teachers and others. No big deal, say some, but it is shameful and I hope those individuals are punished appropriately. The excuses specify that the “patients” have been evaluated by the signing doctor. You folks know how hard it is to get a legitimate P.E. excuse out of me for your child. To put my name on the dotted line for a political protester (whichever side they’re on) is a violation of professional ethics, not different than writing a prescription for a patient I haven’t examined.