Hospice Patients Alliance: Patient Advocates




Man in the World




(Part of the Ethics of Life Series)



by Ron Panzer

April 19, 2013

Part Nine of Ten



Reverence for Life and the Approach to Patient Care


We know that wherever we look, wherever science investigates, from the tiniest subatomic particle or wave to the greatest galaxies, matter itself is perfectly organized intelligently; otherwise there would be no laws of nature and no science. In absolutely every case where we have investigated, this is so.


Sunset over Lake Michigan, USA -2- photo by Jonathan Panzer
                          Sunset over Lake Michigan, USA Photo by Jonathan Panzer

Each time we reach the edge of our understanding, we realize that there are innumerable aspects of the universe around us that we still do not understand.


Reason requires that we acknowledge that there must be a cause for these effects we observe around us. This great uncaused Cause of all that is, including all of life, we call God, and we have reverence for that God and the life He gives. When we have reverence for life, we recognize that the patient before us is an amazing, moving, living microcosm of that which exists in the universe, a vital part of this world.

That living being, that person, our patient, has a virtually infinite number of intelligently organized biological, biochemical, bioelectrical and other physiological processes occurring simultaneously. In health, all work to the good of that patient, maintaining homeostasis, a stable equilibrium and optimum functioning of the human body. In disease, many processes are affected and a state of imbalance ensues, causing suffering and even death.

When we intervene, the person in his entire body will be affected. The good doctor, nurse, dentist (or other healthcare practitioner) will take the time to obtain thorough information about the patient's history. He will learn much about the patient's unique clinical condition as well as their home and social setting, employment, psychological status and so on. In so doing, he will be better able to consider what interventions are most likely to help the patient.

He knows that if we administer even one medication, we may cause dozens of biological effects and responses in the body, and we must recognize that simply because we understand some of the biochemical reactions that occur, we do not understand everything that is occurring or will occur as a result of our intervention. What happens when the patient is taking two, five or even ten medications simultaneously?

The reality is that there is no physician, pharmacist, or biochemist who knows exactly what will happen and how all those medications will interact. Information gleaned from research studies can only provide bits and pieces of information that tell us some of what will happen, and suggest what may happen or what is likely to happen. This is why medicine is an art that must be tailored to each patient's current condition and presenting symptoms, and is not a science that explains everything that will happen to any particular patient.

In the case of a patient taking multiple medications, even if there are no clearly incompatible combinations of those medications, there still could be interactions that might be harmful to the patient. For this reason, prudence demands that we choose medications carefully and give them only if clinically necessary, and that we perform an ongoing, careful assessment of the patient's responses to any medications given.

If we have reverence for life, we will consider these questions. If we don't, we will administer medications without even giving it much thought, and the patients will suffer unnecessary adverse effects. "Polypharmacy," the use of more medications than are clinically indicated by a patient, is quite common in a culture of death healthcare setting, especially in the case of the chronically ill and the elderly.

Visit many skilled nursing facilities or patients in their own home, and you will find patients on a dozen or more medications, often taking two or three for the same purpose. Yes, sometimes two medications may be needed to manage a patient's medical problem, but in many cases, the extra medications are unnecessary and actually causing various medical problems.

When an attentive physician removes some of these extra medications, patients often improve. Some patients who were thought to have dementia, for example, turn out to have been artificially placed in that state as a result of adverse effects from medications that are redundant or actually harmful to that patient.

If we administer one Central Nervous System ("CNS") depressant, and then another and another yet again, it is no surprise that the patient's mental and metabolic functions are suppressed. Sedatives, opioid analgesics for pain, and other medications combine to create an adverse synergistic effect: the respiratory rate and heart rate is slowed; the blood pressure is lowered; the patient's consciousness is reduced to lethargy, stupor and finally, medically-induced coma. What eventually happens in such cases?

We need only look to the notorious untimely deaths of Judy Garland, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and dozens of other famous celebrities. In 2010, "38,329 people died of drug overdoses in the United States in 2010," and "57% of [the] overdoses, or more than 22,000, involved known prescription drugs."1

At a minimum, over 22,000 real people died in one year as a result of physician-prescribed medications, and although we do not know if the medications were misused, in many cases they are taken as prescribed and death still results. The total number of deaths from drug overdoses was more than those who died in traffic accidents, and those resulting from prescribed drugs was not far behind it! This is the madness of a culture of death: society's physicians prescribe and we agree to take medications that kill us.

We know that "from 1999 to 2007, the number of U.S. poisoning deaths involving any opioid analgesic (e.g., oxycodone, methadone, or hydrocodone) more than tripled, from 4,041 to 14,459, or 36% of the 40,059 total poisoning deaths in 2007."2 Opioids alone or in combination with other CNS depressants can be lethal, yet nurses in end-of-life care settings are often trained to think that these medications pose little or no danger at all!

What does happen in the end-of-life hospice or palliative care setting today? Patients are often routinely given the same drugs that have caused deaths in those famous cases. They receive one CNS-depressant medication after another — almost always morphine or another opioid medication, Ativan (lorazepam) or other anti-anxiety or sedative medications, and Haldol or other anti-psychotics. Patients are sometimes given two or three of each type, sometimes more.

Almost all opioid deaths occurring within the end-of-life care setting are never declared as "poisoning" deaths or overdoses and are not listed as such officially. Deaths are expected to occur because the patient is in the end-of-life hospice setting and are almost never investigated through an autopsy. Deaths related to synergistically harmful and redundant medications in a skilled nursing facility or end-of-life care setting are also almost never declared as "poisoning" deaths.

Of course, in end-of-life settings, patients often do have extreme pain and other symptoms, and careful administration of powerful medications is clinically justified in many situations. In the culture of death healthcare setting, though, do healthcare practitioners strive to allow a natural death in its own timing while relieving distressing symptoms? Or, do they in many cases actually seek to hasten death?

We know from secular bioethicists as well as hospice and palliative care leaders that in many cases they actually do seek to hasten and impose death. It is no surprise that in the widespread culture of death healthcare setting, patients are often quickly sedated into a coma from which they are not allowed to emerge.

Permanent sedation into death3 — also called "slow" or "stealth" euthanasia — is becoming a very common method of imposing death in the healthcare setting! Is it not a form of madness when many of those whose duty is to care for us, actually kill us?

CNS depressants are not the only medications that can be misused or overprescribed and lead to patient harm. "Experts from the CDC and FDA estimate that every year, more than 700,000 people visit U.S. emergency departments because of side effects, accidental overdoses, and other adverse drug events." The FDA states that 100,000 patients die each year due to adverse reactions to prescription drugs.4

In good healthcare practice establishing the culture of life, many patients' medications are monitored and their responses are evaluated. Insulin for regulating blood sugar, Coumadin (warfarin sodium) to optimize blood-clotting, and thyroid supplements are examples of medications that must be regularly adjusted to patient conditions. Give too much or too little of any of these, and the patient may eventually die.

In the culture of death, the choice to stop monitoring and properly adjusting such medications has become one of many methods of hastening death in the patient. The healthcare practitioner need not inject a patient with a lethal agent to assure death. If the patient has any chronic condition, mismanagement of the medications needed can and does result in destabilization of the patient and consequent death. If the patient acquires an infection, the choice to not treat that infection results in an unnecessary death in just the same way.

What about very serious adverse and even lethal effects of prescribed medications that are considered "safe?" From 1940 through 1971, a synthetic estrogen, "diethylstilbestrol, known as DES, was used clinically to prevent certain complications of pregnancy." After finding that DES unintentionally had caused a rare form of cancer, "in 1971, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration notified physicians that DES should not be prescribed to pregnant women. However, between 5 million and 10 million pregnant women and babies had already been exposed to the drug."5

Recent research has shown that those exposed to this approved, prescribed drug have a lifelong, significantly higher risk for 12 different medical conditions: Forty times higher risk for clear-cell adenocarcinoma, eight times higher risk of neonatal death, and various significantly higher risks of pre-term delivery, loss of second trimester pregnancy, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth, infertility, early menopause, cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, breast cancer, first trimester miscarriage, and pre-eclampsia.

In a culture of life, proper testing and precautions are taken to avoid likely harm to the patient and even possible harm. Clearly, not enough research had been done to determine whether DES was actually safe for the public. This is how those who follow a culture of death pattern work in a healthcare and research setting: they are impatient, not wishing to wait to make sure planned interventions or medications are truly safe.

They wish to reap the financial rewards now, looking to short-term gain, and market their products as a way to "help" solve certain problems without properly and effectively warning patients about the adverse effects that will result. Although those who care about their patients and have reverence for life are eager to relieve the suffering of their patients, they are also willing to wait as necessary so that safety is truly established. If we find ourselves succumbing to our impatience, we will endanger patient safety and should know that we have strayed from the principles of the culture of life!

A glaring and recent example is Vioxx (Rofecoxib), a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug mostly marketed to and used by the elderly for pain. Vioxx was approved by the US FDA and other nations' regulatory bodies after examining Merck's research studies. Many believe Merck either manipulated the data to hide the actual results of their studies or to minimize Vioxx's risks, or both.

Vioxx was an instant hit: millions took the drug but Vioxx subsequently was responsible for causing thousands of heart attacks and strokes. As a result, Vioxx caused a minimum of 60,000 deaths worldwide, and likely several times that number — which is (to gain some perspective) more than the entire 58,220 U.S. casualties from the Vietnam War!6 Those 60,000 deaths resulted from just one medication!

If one of us even touches another person against their wishes, or steals five dollars from a store owner, it is considered a crime and we can be arrested, tried and convicted of that crime. Yet, Raymond Gilmartin, the Merck CEO who oversaw the marketing of Vioxx, even after that pharmaceutical manufacturer knew of its dangers, even when tens of thousands then died, was not accused of any crime let alone sent to jail!

Although Merck, Inc. agreed to pay $4.85 billion to settle its liabilities, Gilmartin actually made $50 million at Merck, then resigned and "joined the faculty of Harvard Business School," and currently "serves on the boards of General Mills, Inc., and the Microsoft Corporation."7 The culture of death rewards those who are corrupt and whose actions result in killing (mostly the vulnerable elderly).

This is what is meant by a culture of death: a society composed largely of individuals who subscribe to a perverse worldview, and who allow harm to others without taking effective precautions to prevent that harm. They discard the unwanted without the slightest concern. When they or other agents of death kill, just as happened in the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment, they avoid holding the individuals accountable for their actions.

When reverence for life flourishes in society, these intentional, knowing acts of harm causing death to so many are recognized as crimes and those who commit them are prosecuted. In the culture of life, the precautionary principle (guiding us to avoid acts that are likely to cause harm) and prudence (that enables us to know how to act wisely in this world) guide those who perform research, manufacture, distribute or administer any medications or products available to the public. In this way, the well-being of the public is assured and harm is avoided. If research or other evidence show that a product is unsafe, it is not marketed, but the leaders at Merck chose to do the exact opposite.

How many other medications do we administer that may also increase the risk of death? Aside from the well-known risks of the opioids like morphine, Haldol, one antipsychotic medication, is known to double the risk of death in the elderly,8 yet it is increasingly administered to them. End-of-life care practitioners argue that in that healthcare setting its use is justified, and that these studies somehow "do not apply" at the end-of-life.

Except for those patients who are clearly demonstrating several signs of the clinically active phase of dying, we must ask ourselves, "Do we truly know for sure when the "end-of-life" will come if we do not hasten it?" It is clear that no matter the care setting, the effect of Haldol physiologically is to double the risk of elderly patient deaths. We must ask: "What are we seeking to accomplish with our care?"

Adherence to the precautionary principle would give us pause to consider whether administration of this particular drug, or any other, is truly justified, and whether or not other less-lethal medications might be utilized with a much better outcome. When it is known that this drug's use has increased dramatically as the culture of death has infiltrated end-of-life care especially, is this medication's widespread use today so common precisely because of its increased risk of death?

The healthcare practitioner with reverence for life will ask these questions and take time to research and re-evaluate his or her practice. While Haldol may be quite helpful to some patients, how many other patients may be harmed unnecessarily? Many other medications also have potentially serious adverse effects, so their use needs to be carefully considered before we choose to administer them to our patients. Pharmaceutical industry history shows us that we cannot simply trust the marketing and the hype.

Some will ask, "Which practitioners have reverence for life?" It is not necessarily the practitioner that says he is pro-life, or who even proclaims his faith in God, but the one who actually properly treats his patient and helps him (Matthew 21:28-32). Those who have reverence for life have a generosity of spirit, giving of their time, giving full attention to the one before them, and giving of what they have materially (Luke 6:38).

In the culture of death, truly needed services are provided to those deemed to be part of the elite, the wealthy, powerful, and influential. For others, services are promised but not always actually delivered. A patient diagnosed with cancer is promised treatment, but may not get the complete series of treatments that is necessary to be effective, or gets a lower dose than is required to be effective, and then the patient is told that the treatment "failed." In actuality, the patient is deceived, never knowing he did not receive the actual therapeutic treatment available through modern medical science.

When it comes to healthcare services, the culture of death is a counterfeit of the culture of life. Healthcare professionals use language that implies they will provide whatever the patient needs, but they don't meet the patients' needs in many cases.

In the end-of-life setting, they promise the full range of services, but once the patient is enrolled, visits are few and far between; medications are given as part of a death protocol and not tailored to the patient's unique needs. When the patient's right to "self-determination" and "autonomy" is promoted, it is only promoted so that treatment can be refused (or denied), not so that treatment can be guaranteed when the patient chooses it! This was clearly the intent of those members of the Euthanasia Society of America who introduced "the living will" as an incremental step toward the legalization of euthanasia.9

If the patient requires physical or occupational therapy, the once promised services are not made available. If the patient has an easily treated infection, they refuse to treat it. By denying it, they manipulate care so that an early imposed death occurs from the infection, not from a terminal illness! If the patient's bowels are impacted (a medical emergency when stool cannot pass) staff will place an ineffective suppository to give the appearance they are doing something, but they know it will accomplish nothing. They refuse to take the time to disimpact the bowel and therefore assure that an unnatural death will occur.

If the patient complains that he is having difficulty breathing, rather than sit the patient up in bed, provide oxygen, perform a nebulizer treatment to open the airways, administer medications to reduce fluid in the lungs, suction fluids out of the airway, or other treatments, morphine is given "to help" the breathing. Hospice staff all around the world are being taught (incorrectly in most cases) that morphine helps the breathing, and then do almost nothing else to help the patient's breathing!

Well, a low dose does help when combined with a diuretic for those suffering from pulmonary edema related to heart failure (it diverts blood away from the pulmonary circulation). But they misapply this for those who have no pulmonary edema and don't give a diuretic to the patient if he does have pulmonary edema! In such a case, morphine only "relaxes" the patient into a permanent coma and increasingly works to shut down their breathing.

This type of "relaxation" offered by the culture of death is similar to the total relaxation accomplished by shutting off the patient's access to air, a method of imposing death used by many in the pro-euthanasia community.10 The culture of death mixes a little truth with a lie or deception and manipulates interventions to hasten death. Some are unaware they are actually hastening death; others know very well what they are doing!

When the patient complains that they are not getting water, staff throw up roadblocks of all sorts, may provide token amounts of water that do not replenish the patient's required needs for hydration, and continue to make excuses and delay. When the patient wants to eat, they sedate him enough so that a "choking" problem is created and suddenly "discovered."

Obviously, you don't want to give food and fluids orally to someone who can't swallow, so they tell the family, "He can't swallow!" "Do you want to cause aspiration pneumonia?" But without food and fluids, any of us will die, and over days, the patient does die an early death. They have manipulated the patient's consciousness so that he cannot swallow, and manipulated the family so they do not see the deadly deception!

For parents who are looking forward to the birth of their unborn child, physicians and hospital staff brag about all the services available, the state-of-the-art technology available, and all the awards they have received. Yet, if before or upon birth a congenital defect is discovered, those services suddenly are figuratively "whisked out of sight," and the parents are forced to fight for every bit of treatment their child requires. The staff bias is toward assuring death.

It is clear that what other professionals are doing is not an acceptable standard for those with reverence for life. We must determine for ourselves what is right for this or that particular patient! Prudence and our love for those we serve demand that we continually re-examine what we are doing. Our duty to the patient, to ourselves, and to our Lord demands we re-examine what we are doing, and more fundamentally, what we have been taught!

The culture of death seeks to guide industry and society to manipulate and affect man, in every aspect of his life. The culture of death medicalizes life itself so that every man, woman and child must take one medication or another over the course of their life.

For the most part, individuals are not commonly forced by government to take medications, but as time moves forward, they increasingly are! Just as parents' rights to home-school their own children are being attacked, increasingly, courts are ordering parents to have treatments provided to their children, even if the parents have chosen to pursue other treatment methods. They accuse the parents of "child abuse" if they do not provide the patient, their child, with the "approved" treatment, vaccine, or hormone. Years ago, the courts would not have challenged the parents' right to raise their children as they wished.

Even without governmental coercion, individuals are indoctrinated through the media, government officials and their own physicians to believe they cannot or should not live without many medications. Today we are bombarded with ads for medications, while years ago, the government, for good reason, did not allow pharmaceutical manufacturers to advertise their medications on TV, and left the patient educational process to the physician.

What types of medications are the people made or manipulated to consume? In the culture of death, girls and other women are led to believe that almost all of them must take contraceptive medications and hormone supplements to prevent pregnancy, yet they are not convincingly told that they realistically may actually suffer heart attacks, strokes, liver disease and many other problems as a result.11 They are not told that their use of oral contraceptives and "emergency contraception" (abortifacient contraception like "Plan B") actually leads to an increased risk of acquiring a sexually-transmitted disease including HIV!12

They are encouraged to engage in sexual intercourse as routinely as eating breakfast, and to avoid thinking too much about its potentially serious consequences. They are encouraged to view contraceptive hormone supplements as casually as putting on lipstick, not medications with potentially life-changing adverse effects!

I remember caring for a 20 year-old woman who had taken a contraceptive and was one of those who did have a major stroke as a result. She could not speak or move her body at all and lay in the bed much as a quadriplegic would. We healthcare workers see the reality, but the manufacturers do not show that to the gullible public! In the culture of death, the truth is suppressed and communication is convincingly twisted to mislead (Hosea 4:6). If one woman is stricken, others are still led to believe, "It won't happen to me!"

Through the years, report after report has highlighted the tragic consequences of these hormonal medications that not only have direct health effects on the women who take them, but also serve as endocrine disrupting chemicals ("EDCs") in the children of those women who have taken them.

According to a recent report, the "State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals,"13 such EDCs (including contraceptives) "contribute to the development of non-descended testes in young males, breast cancer in women, prostate cancer in men, developmental effects on the nervous system in children, attention deficit /hyperactivity in children and thyroid cancer." When the potential price is so high, why risk taking them?

Like the women, children are made to receive many vaccines from birth as a condition for acceptance into public school. Seeking to prevent terribly harmful diseases such as polio, whooping cough, and others is certainly a praiseworthy goal. However, that some who are vaccinated suffer very serious adverse effects is not in question.

In an effort to reduce the rate of population growth, tainted vaccines appear to have been given to 3.4 million Philippine women in 1995 so that they be made sterile. "The hormone-laced vaccine was also discovered in Mexico, Nicaragua, Tanzania, India and Nigeria. The anti-hCG hormone cause[d] not only sterilizations but also incurable autoimmune disorders, miscarriages and birth defects." Yet, the women were told they were receiving tetanus vaccines, not being given a vaccine that would make them unable to bear children.14

Why are such harmful vaccines, medications or hormones created and distributed in the culture of death? That there are serious adverse effects of the contraceptives all women are strongly encouraged to take is well-established. Nevertheless, aggressive marketing and industry-friendly government policies are brought to bear to assure that the public consumes these vaccines, hormones and medications.

Public school officials and teachers require vaccinations for all children that enter school. They promote the use of Ritalin and other medications for children who are perceived as, or who actually are, disruptive. They promote contraceptive use for sexually-active teens.

The endocrine-disruptive chemicals (EDCs) in medications and contraceptives can increase the rate of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). At the same time, boys and girls are increasingly made to sit in public schools quietly without moving around, and opportunity for physical play is restricted. A child's need to play, run, yell or shout during school hours is part of a child's nature, yet it is suppressed.

Many are drugged with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications like Ritalin (methylphenidate) to subdue them and make them manageable in the public school setting, whether they are among those caused to have ADHD through EDCs or not. There are many who question the use of a powerful stimulant medication like Ritalin, which is extremely addictive, and can cause dependence. Not only does Ritalin have many potential side-effects that are undesirable — some quite serious — there also is debate about whether such stimulant medications actually help children in the long term.

Of those who do not really have ADHD, how many school children would be much happier if they had access to regular playtime where they can run around outside, rather than being forced to take these medications? How many of them would do better in school with greater access to the healthy exercise involved in sports? In order to reduce expenditures, some schools have reduced time allocated for gymnastic instruction, music and sports, yet the effect of such reductions may be counter-productive academically. Such reductions also only worsen the restlessness experienced by some children.

The adverse effects of many medications like Ritalin, contraceptives, and others are minimized to the public, and because some effects may take years or decades to emerge, people may have great difficulty understanding what caused their suffering. Like the women and children, men also are targeted and manipulated to consume many medications or hormones. Men are indoctrinated to believe they must take medications to relieve common hair loss, or to increase their sexual performance, yet they are not directly and convincingly told that they may suffer serious adverse effects as a result.

Propecia (finasteride), another Merck product, helps to combat hair loss, yet may cause low libido, low sexual arousal, and interfere with sexual performance in an undetermined percentage of users!15 It is not helpful that some studies suggest large percentages of men are affected while others suggest low percentages are affected. How is one to know the truth when the necessary research studies are simply not done? Are they not being done because the manufacturer doesn't wish the truth to be revealed, or because they do not wish to spend the money on such studies that could adversely affect their revenue, or both?

Like the changes seen in DES users years ago or in Vioxx users, some of the adverse effects persist for years or permanently. Some men require hormone replacement for the rest of their lives after taking Propecia. Does it make sense to risk such serious effects to prevent or treat hair loss?

Those men whose sexual performance has been adversely affected by this or many other medications may take sexual performance medications like sildenafil citrate (Viagra) or tadalafil (Cialis), yet again, these medications also have potentially very serious adverse effects for some patients: sudden blindness, sudden hearing loss, heart attack, stroke, permanent loss of sexual ability, or death.16 While many men take these for medical conditions, some abuse them and take them recreationally, and some of these also suffer the same adverse effects unnecessarily. Does this make sense?

We can understand that the US FDA (or any other nation's regulatory body) that regulates vaccines, drugs and food will not stop the production, distribution and administration of many actually harmful foods, drugs and vaccines, because many of those individuals appointed to FDA committees are former executives and officials from the industries that produce such drugs and vaccines or genetically-manipulated foods!

Even though the US FDA assures us that the vaccines are "completely safe," an Italian court found that a childhood vaccination was responsible for causing autism. Many physicians parroting the approved industry line say that there is no link. These physicians cannot explain why in the 1980s, "only four in every 10,000 [one in 2,500] children showed any signs of autism."17, while today "one in 64 British children has some kind of autistic condition." The current rate of autism in Britain is 39 times as frequent as it was in the 1980s!

These physicians cannot explain why truly shocking increases in autism are happening in the U.S. as well: "the number of children diagnosed with autism ... increased 25% between 2006 and 2008." "The autism rate is even higher for boys: one in 54 compared to girls, one in 252."18 Yet, needed investigative research comparing the rates of vaccination for each and every required vaccination given, to the rates of autism occurring, is not being done.

With such tragically high rates of lifelong disability only increasing as the years move forward, how can we continue to not do the research to find the actual cause? It may be that several products or environmental hazards such as Bisphenol A19 (found in many plastic drinking bottles, composite resins used in dentistry, medical devices, and many canned food linings) are collectively causing these tragic changes.

Yet, it seems apparent that something man is doing is causing these changes. Even if we are constantly assured that "everything is perfectly safe," is it not madness to continue along the path our society is taking? How high does the rate of autism need to go before society's scientists and leaders take action to stop the damage?

Leaders who possess reverence for life would make sure adequate research was immediately done to stop these tragic injuries to our children, yet leaders who care only for power, wealth or status, protect the powerful corporations while abandoning the duty to protect the individual.

The message of the culture of death? "All" women need to take contraceptive. "Most" men need hair-loss prevention and sexual-performance medications. "All children will be vaccinated," even if lifelong harm comes to many in the process. With the help of the government agencies that regulate and pay for those medications (in the case of government-reimbursed health care), with the help of the major media, with the help of physicians who receive various incentives to promote certain medications, the pharmaceutical corporations are doing very well! Just to name two pharmaceutical corporations: Merck's total assets equal $105 billion while Pfizer's are listed at $188 billion.

Of course, medications help millions, but the adverse effects that some experience are very terrible prices to pay. The principles that promote the culture of life encourage us to promote healing with the least harmful method available. Thousands of studies have shown the benefits of adopting habits of eating a healthy diet, exercising and avoiding risky behaviors (such as taking drugs, alcohol or engaging in unmarried sexual relations).

Thousands of studies have shown that much suffering can be avoided through these non-medical means, yet supporters of the culture of death discount their power to help. They say, "Yes, but the people won't change their lifestyle." It is worth noting that adherents to the culture of death worldview also use the latest technologies and psychological findings to condition the people to spend time watching TV (and the commercial advertisements), play violent video games, eat processed foods with high levels of salt and sugars, or engage in casual sexual relations. To a great extent, this explains why many individuals invite needless suffering in how they choose to live.

Without a doubt, the culture of death is nurtured by those who simply seek great wealth, power, status, and the enjoyments these can bring to them at the expense of others. These individuals will step on others to get what they want. They can step literally, as in a quasi-military, police, or actual military presence, or they can "step" figuratively, and use the people to get what they want. They can step medically, and harm others as a direct effect of their actions or even impose death on those who are thought to be undesirable, imperfect human beings.

When industrial leaders create products that bring harm to the people, and those leaders know their products cause harm, even death, yet still manufacture, distribute, and market them, is this not a betrayal of the people they are supposed to serve? Is this not an aspect of the culture of death? We may not recognize it, because we are already indoctrinated to use these products and because we see "everyone else" using these products.

If industrial leaders are allowed by the US FDA to put high-fructose corn syrup, or other forms of processed sugar, in almost every processed food, who reaps billions of dollars in profit? The mega-corporate leaders who control the production of corn. And what type of corn is used to make that high-fructose corn syrup? It is the now genetically-modified corn used in 90% of all cereals consumed in the United States.

That these unnecessary additives increase consumption of their product is their concern. That they are certain to increase obesity makes no difference to them, and the people are then condemned for being obese and do not understand the link between the processed food they are eating and their condition.

So, the people are given almost no choice if they are to partake of the processed foods that "everyone else" is eating — what is heavily marketed to their children through TV commercials. Being obese or overweight increases our risk of acquiring type II diabetes, having a heart attack or stroke and many other health problems. Yet, 70% of the American population is either overweight or obese.20 With such a threat to the health of the people, one might think that industry leaders would work to reduce the number of foods containing some form of added sugar, and the quantity in such foods, but they do the opposite. Is this not the culture of death at work?

Leaders may be tempted to mandate that the people not drink soda, but where does the extent of governmental power end? The culture of death will lead man to an early death and also condemn him for living the way he has been encouraged to live. However, each individual has freedom to choose how he will live. Therefore, he must be properly informed and then is empowered to voluntarily choose to follow the way that leads to abundant life.

But those who promote the culture of death misuse everything they touch. They tempt man by promising a counterfeit and illusory "happiness" found through overeating, drugs, alcohol, or immoral entertainments that degrade man, destroy the natural relationships between man and woman and their children, and alienate man from God and each other.

We are told, "You will be as gods!" "All men will desire you if you use this fitness regime, wear these clothes, use this lipstick, makeup, or skin conditioner!" "All women will desire you if you buy this car, wear this cologne, or dress this way!" "You will be able to travel at great speeds!" "Everyone will admire you if you purchase this expensive watch, car or gadget!" "You will enjoy great things!" "You can't live without it!" Yet, as a result, man abandons the way of life and experiences ever-increasing rates of mental and emotional distress, violence, disease, and early death.

When the power of cable or satellite TV, the computer and the internet is made available to all, rather than being used to uplift man, it is twisted to bring pornography and online gambling to the masses. When electronic mail (email) and social media are created that help individuals and their families communicate, it is turned into a method of spying on the people who use it. When public schools are made available to the masses, they are used to indoctrinate the children into an anti-God, secular, transhumanist vision of life. Schools are used to nurture the culture of death.

When brave followers of the dear Lord promote the culture of life, when they use modern technology to bring to life the timeless stories of the Bible, so many are thrilled and captivated. Yet leading film producers, representatives of the culture of death, ask, "How is it possible that so many choose to watch that?" Even when The Ten Commandments earned $65.5 million back in 1956 ($446 million in today's dollars),21, they don't produce films like it.

They don't like the film's final message, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof." (Leviticus 25:10). They don't like the type of liberty found through adherence to God's divine law and the natural law. They want license to do whatever they wish to do, not true liberty.22 They detest the idea that they may be judged by God, as to whether they chose to do the right or the wrong. They reject the entire film's message. They reject God as well as the divine law!

In 2004, adherents to the culture of death were dismayed when so many chose to watch The Passion of the Christ that reaped $604 million23 When The Bible mini-series (shown in March, 2013) became the most-watched cable TV offering ever, with over 100 million watching the series, those who reject the culture of life were stunned.

Even though earning a profit is one of the main goals of the film and entertainment industry, its leaders would rather forfeit that opportunity than uplift people and promote traditional values. They are so aligned against God that they would rather "shoot themselves in the foot" by continuing to harm people by delivering their degrading and often perverted entertainments.

In just the same way, healthcare industry administrators create facilities and systems that harm people, even though they could easily bring in revenues through appropriate and life-affirming healthcare interventions. Those who have adopted a culture of death worldview see the world in ways that are diametrically-opposed to the worldview of the culture of life. They really do believe that killing patients to relieve their suffering is a "good," and that serving them until a natural death occurs is cruel.

The good physician, nurse or other healthcare professional, thinks differently. The truly good physician, for example, takes the time to review all the diagnostic findings, and carefully considers what interventions will best help the patient. He knows what the nursing care plan and therapy plans involve. The good nurse knows what the physician intends to accomplish and how. The good dentist communicates with the physician as any other healthcare practitioner does when it is appropriate.

In the culture of death, the practitioner simply doesn't care to go these extra miles. They spend a minimum of time with the patient. Concerns for efficiency trump any concern for the patient's well-being. In the culture of life, that extra mile is traversed with every patient so that just care is delivered. The care the patient is due, that the patient needs, is provided simply because they are a fellow human being (Matthew 5:41).

Healthcare is not merely a business; it is a spiritual mission of mercy! Healthcare is not our right because we have a government. Healthcare is our right because we are all created by God and the life we experience is given to us by God. Without Him, there is no life! (John 1:1-5) Charitable, compassionate care for all is the right of every human being, and it is our duty as individuals to work, in some way, to help others who are in need.

The brilliant interdisciplinary approach promoted by Dame Cicely Saunders, Christian pro-life founder of the modern hospice movement, is the mutually-cooperative and wholistic approach of those who possess reverence for life. Yet, in the current culture of death, many hospices' interdisciplinary efforts become a sham, and no true effort to do what is best for the patient exists. Concern for profit or revenue determines what services are provided.24 What may be best for the patient is set aside.

In the frantic quest for power, wealth or "success," we are tempted to forget the miracle of life before us: our patient! When we revere life, we look and seek to optimize everything that might affect our patient's well-being. We look to the type and quantity of their nutritional intake, their level of hydration, their sleep patterns, the stress in their lives, their exposure to environmental hazards (chemical and otherwise), their family health history and just about everything their life involves — just as Florence Nightingale instructed so many years ago.

It all matters. How the patient lives, how they spend their time, how much exercise they get or do not get, their relationships — all of it affects their health because there is no separation. We are not a physical being here, an emotional being there, a psychological being over there, or yet again, a spiritual being somewhere else. We are one human being with all of these aspects, just as a tree will have roots, a trunk, branches and leaves.

Child jumping: Kobus Botha Flying at Crayfish Factory, Cape Peninsula, South Africa - photo by Daniela Börne - Wikimedia Commons

With reverence for life, we recognize the magnificence that is our patient, a human being, and approach him or her with humility. How wonderfully made is man! (Psalm 139:14) God has given us great abilities to serve our patients. When we have reverence for life, we prudently make the effort to use all of these abilities, and apply all of our knowledge, to find the solution that will help our patient, because we truly care.

Whatever the stage of life, we serve and treat — so long as these can truly help. We don't withdraw our services simply because we do not approve the life before us.

We know that all patients are human persons made in the image of God. As such, they are to be served and have their lives affirmed — including the preborn, the newborn, infant, child, as well as the adult, the disabled, and the elderly. Like the farmer, we put our hand to the plow and do not look back. We serve to the best of our ability and leave the results in His hands (Luke 9:62).



Next:    Man in the World - Part Ten



Endnotes:

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            JAMA. 2013;309(7):657-659. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.272.
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  2.    US Centers for Disease Control, Number of Poisoning Deaths Involving Opioid Analgesics and Other Drugs
            or Substances? United States, 1999?2007, Aug 20, 2010, Morbidity and Mortality Wkly Report, Vol 59, No 32 Back

  3.    Anemona Hartocollis, Hard Choice for a Comfortable Death: Sedation, Dec 26, 2009, New York Times. Also see:
         Ron Panzer, Stealth Euthanasia: Health Care Tyranny in America, 2011, Hospice Patients Alliance. and:
         Wesley J Smith, Liberal Euthanasia Activists Redefining Sedation Into Killing, March 26, 2013, LifeNews.com Back

  4.    Miranda Hitti, Bad Events From Drugs Are Common - More Than 700,000 People per Year Visit ERs Due to Adverse,
            Drug Events, Oct 17, 2006, WebMD Health News. Also see:
         Daniel S. Budnitz, MD, MPH, et. al., National Surveillance of Emergency Department Visits for Outpatient,
            Adverse Drug Events, JAMA. 2006;296(15):1858-1866. doi:10.1001/jama.296.15.1858. and see:
         US FDA, Why Learn about Adverse Drug Reactions, June, 2009. Back

  5.    Staff, Women exposed to diethylstilbestrol in the womb face increased cancer risk, Oct 5, 2011, EurekAlert.com, Also see:
         Robert N Hoover, MD, et al, Adverse Health Outcomes in Women Exposed In Utero to Diethylstilbestrol,
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         Alexander Cockburn, When half a million Americans died and nobody noticed, April 27, 2012, The Week, (UK). Back

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  8.    M G Sullivan, Haloperidol Doubles Risk of Death in Institutionalized Elderly, Feb 23, 2012,
            Clinical Psychiatry News. Also see:
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11.    Natasha Singer, Health Concerns Over Popular Contraceptives, Sept 25, 2009, NY Times. Also see:
         Staff, Yaz - Highlights of Prescribing Information, 2013, Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc. Also see:
         Hortense Smith, Is Yaz Riskier Than Other Birth Control Pills?, Sept 26, 2009, Jezebel.com. Also see:
         Thaddeus Baklinski, French study: 20 deaths per year attributed to contraceptive pill use,
            March 27, 2013, LifeSiteNews.com. Back

12.    Christine Piette Durrance, The Effects of Increased Access to Emergency Contraception on Sexually Transmitted Disease and Abortion Rates
            Economic Inquiry. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-7295.2012.00498.x. Also see:
         JM Baeten, et al, Hormonal contraception and risk of sexually transmitted disease acquisition: results from a prospective study,
            Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2001 Aug;185(2):380-5. Also see:
         JA McGregor, HA Hammill, Contraception and sexually transmitted diseases: interactions and opportunities,
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13.    U.N. Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Health Organization, Effects of human exposure
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14.    David Morrison, Bad blood in the Philippines?, PRI Review: 1996, v6, n6, Nov/Dec. Also see:
          Leslie Tignor, The Truth About UNICEF, Oct 5, 2005, American Life League. Also see:
          Staff, UNICEF Nigerian Polio Vaccine Contaminated with Sterilizing Agents Scientist Finds,
            March 11, 2004, LifeSiteNews.com. Also see:
          Staff, UNICEF?s Other Agendas, Oct 30, 2002, LifeSiteNews.com. Back

15.    Michael S. Irwig MD, et al, Persistent Sexual Side Effects of Finasteride for Male Pattern Hair Loss,
            March 18, 2011, The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Vol 8, No 6, 1747-1753. Also see:
         Mickey Rapkin, The (Not So Hard) Truth About Hair Loss Drugs, Oct 2011, Men's Journal. Also see:
         V R Sreeraman, FDA Links Merck's Drugs to Sexual Side Effects, April 14, 2012, MedIndia.net. Back

16.    Staff, Sildenafil Side Effects, March, 2013, Drugs.com. Also see:
          Staff, Viagra (Sildenafil Citrate), 2013, Pfizer, Inc. Back

17.    Sue Reid, MMR: A Mother's Victory, June 15, 2012, MailOnline. Back

18.    Vera Sharav, Gene Mutation Risk for Autism --5% to 20% , April 6, 2012,
             Alliance for Human Research Protection. Back

19.    Sarah Vogel, PhD, Battles Over Bisphenol A, April 16, 2008, DefendingScience.org. Also see:
         Staff, reviewed by B Nazario, MD, The Facts About Bisphenol A, 2010, WebMD.com. Back

20.    Lara Salahi, U.S. Obesity Rates Level Off, Remain High, Jan 17, 2012, ABCNews.Go.com, Back

21.    Staff, The Ten Commandments (1956) Did You Know?, IMDb.com. Back

22.    John Locke, Of the State of Nature, Two Treatises of Government, ch II, Sect 6, Merchant Books, 2011. Back

23.    Staff, Key Facts about The Passion of the Christ in Highest Grossing Movies, Findthedata.org. Back

24.    Cathy Tokarski, Patients Receive Fewer Services From for-Profit Hospice Providers, April 22, 2004,
             Medscape.com. Back