The death of medical ethics in America: “Ye cannot serve God and mammon”

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So it is that in the year 2015, the faculty of Gynecology at Northwestern University’s distinguished Feinberg School of Medicine permit themselves to publish a document with words that sound disturbingly reminiscent of those promoted by ethically defunct empires of the past - that to save "societal cost" and for the presumed benefit of the majority, the sacrifice of a minority subset of people’s lives is justified.

On April 10, 2015 a group of American physicians at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine published a manuscript.

This manuscript exemplifies the depth of ethical corruption possible in our contemporary medical establishment.

Let us be specific.

In this gynecological specialty paper, the authors are directly claiming that the continued upstaging of unsuspecting women’s cancers by minimally invasive gynecological surgeons, using a practice known as morcellation, is financially justifiable.

Why?

Because, they state, “eliminating morcellation hysterectomy as a treatment for fibroids is not cost-effective under a wide variety of probability and cost assumptions. Performing laparotomy for all patients who might otherwise be candidates for morcellation hysterectomy is a costly policy from a societal perspective.”

In other words, the fact that morcellation AVOIDABLY spreads and upstages deadly uterine cancers in a minority, one in 200-500, unsuspecting American women is justifiable because it financially benefits society.

Now, this argument is the unspoken one that underlies the behavior of a large number of our corporations in the year 2015.

The almighty dollar, the profit margin, and the smooth flow of business trump lives and ethics – and when it is for the “benefit of the majority”, what could be better?

But to unabashedly make such a statement in writing betrays an incredible level of ethical blindness on the part of these specific medical doctors, and their specialty.

In bygone eras, entire empires, countries and groups had accepted, and even welcomed, the sacrifice of minority subsets of people for the real, or presumed, “benefit of the majority”.

But, America has repeatedly indicted such intellectual, political and societal positions as being “atrocious” and unethical – British imperialism over the American colonies, Slavery over men and women of African origin, Fascism, anti-semitism, Communism, etc.

These forces all had one specific thing in common: they were all willing to sacrifice the rights and lives of minority subsets of people for the real or presumed “benefit of the majority”.

In fact, America’s constitution was ultimately the main force that empowered a democratically governed republic to protect and preserve the rights and dignity of every individual human life – in almost every one of the cases listed above.

In the not so distant past, America went to war with such atrocious philosophical constructs. Sacred blood was spilled in defense of human dignity and diversity of culture, spirit and intellect: The American revolutionary war, the American civil war, World-War II, the Cold-War, and others.

But, it is astonishing that in the year 2015, an entire group of American doctors are acting in diametric opposition to the American cultural ethos.

Making the claim that sacrificing the lives of a minority subset of unsuspecting women is justified to presumably “reduce societal costs” and to “benefit the majority” is an unforgivable violation of hard won American cultural and ethical values.

And from within the heart of one of America's most prominent and progressive professions: Medicine!

Why is that?

The answer is strikingly clear: in our day, the principles of medical ethics are being easily overridden by the corporate need for revenue, by the need for streamlined practice volume and by liability managers.

The individual patient is no longer the prime focus of the establishment physician – instead, revenue, efficiency, billing, liability containment, corporate defense, or “innovation” are!

And this cancerous construct is systemic to our establishment, perhaps to our globalized economy - it is not just one institution or a few doctors. We are all susceptible to this deviation. We have all deviated from the purity that rests at the very foundation of the American revolution at this society’s inception.

So it is that in the year 2015, the faculty of Gynecology at Northwestern University’s distinguished Feinberg School of Medicine permit themselves to publish a document with words that sound disturbingly reminiscent of those promoted by ethically defunct empires of the past - that to save societal cost and for the presumed benefit of the majority, the sacrifice of a minority subset of people’s lives is justified.

Here it is, very specifically, an example published by Nazi Germany's Aktion T-4 in a pamphlet justifying euthanasia:

"This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the community 60,000 Reichsmark during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money, too."

“Societal cost containment” achieved by permitting the AVOIDABLE sacrifice of a minority subset of lives, for the "benefit of society".

Atrocious and worthy of war, indeed!

Perhaps the distinguished president, dean, and faculty of Northwestern University and the Feinberg School of Medicine, might look with more diligence than they are, at the make-up and philosophical orientation of their current gynecological colleagues – because at present theirs, as published, stands to be labeled as “atrocious” in the eyes of medical history.

Perhaps the reader might recall this arcane saying from the foundations of our civilization that, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

No physician can serve two masters: Ye cannot truly heal the ill and serve mammon.

So, we are at a crossroads in American Medicine.

American healthcare, its associated industries, and its leaders are seemingly serving two masters – this is catastrophic to the subset of patient’s who daily become “the harmed”, and it will spell out the establishment's own ethical ruin in the not so distant future.

To truly serve and honor the ill, the lame, the dying will never be possible in the era of corporate dominance in medicine.

For now, mammon is winning - and with it, medical ethics stands a good chance of dying in America.

Hooman Noorchashm and Amy Reed, husband-and-wife physicians, have campaigned to ban electric morcellators since December 2013, soon after Reed’s unsuspected uterine cancer was spread by the device during a routine hysterectomy.


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