Snoring in the gap...

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(Tim) Back when Dad (Joe Bayly) was serving as Executive Director of Christian Medical Society (now Christian Medical and Dental Society), he sent me a copy of the following editorial from the September, 1970 issue of California Medicine,

the journal of the California Medical Association. I've referred to

this editorial in prior posts, but never run the editorial itself.

It

might help readers understand David's and my commitment to push

Christian medical professionals hard in matters of life and death if

they knew that, in my files, I have copies of a series of letters

between C. Everett Koop and Dad immediately following Dad's assumption

of the leadership of CMS.

In the first letter, Dad tells Koop

that he intends to lead CMS to adopt an anti-abortion position as

official policy. On that basis, then, Dad appeals to Koop to restore

his membership in CMA.

Prior to then (1979-80), CMS had refused to take a stand against abortion and Koop had resigned in protest...

At the time of the exchange, Koop was likely the best-known

pediatric surgeon in the world and had just been confirmed as the U.S.

Surgeon General. Dad and Koop were quite close, personally. Koop had

cared for the medical needs of most of the Bayly children at one time

or another, so their letters reflected the deep affection they had for

one another.

Think about it: Eight years after the U.S. Supreme

Court's infamous Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in every

state of the Union at any time in pregnancy, the professional

association of evangelical physicians had not brought itself to condemn

the premeditated slaughter of unborn children!

Another indication

of the absence of any Christian witness by evangelicals at the time is the statement

Koop and Francis Schaeffer made during their "Whatever Happened to the

Human Race" barnstorming tour, that when the tour hit Chicago, they

couldn't get evangelical leaders to attend their seminar. Shortly after

the Chicago seminar, Koop and Schaeffer hit Denver and I was there.

During that seminar, Schaeffer told us he and Koop had placed

phone calls to fourteen evangelical leaders when they arrived in

Chicago, asking them to attend, but all fourteen had turned

them down.

This was the state of evangelicalism as the eighties began, and as Dad took over the leadership

of CMS.

After leading CMS for several years, I remember Dad

observing that two things seemed to characterize evangelical

physicians: a lack of courage and the love of money.

Has anything changed?

Well,

on the one hand, we can see that the broad consensus in the evangelical

world did swing ever so slowly against abortion. Even Tony Campolo has

to make like he's pro-life, now.

But where do we find any

compassion for the unborn? Where is our love for the feeble, the

elderly, Terry Schiavo, or those who are victims of unethical organ

procurement?

Our zeal is paltry compared to

the stellar Christian witness of the Roman Catholic church--both clerical and lay.

The discussion carried on under

our recent post, The Vultures Will Gather; and particularly, one

commenter's dismissal of my reference to vultures as "cynical," leads

me to post here, in its entirety, the editorial Dad forwarded to me now

many years ago. Since 1970, we've come a long way from "first, do no

harm."

Even the pagans see it. Or rather, saw it forty years ago.

* * *

A New Ethic for Medicine And Society

The

traditional Western ethic has always placed great emphasis on the

intrinsic worth and equal value of every human life regardless of its

stage or condition. This ethic has had the blessing of the

Judeo-Christian heritage and has been the basis for most of our laws

and much of our social policy. The reverence for each and every human

life has also been keystone of Western medicine and is the ethic which

has caused physicians to try to preserve, protect, repair, prolong, and

enhance every human life which comes under their surveillance. This

traditional ethic is still clearly dominant, but there is much to

suggest that it is being eroded at its core and may eventually be

abandoned. This of course will produce profound changes in Western

medicine and Western society.

There are certain new facts and

social realities which are becoming recognized, are widely discussed in

Western society and seem certain to undermine and transform this

traditional ethic. They have come into being and into focus as the

social by-products of unprecedented technologic progress and

achievement. Of particular importance are, first, the demographic data

of human population expansion which tends to proceed uncontrolled and

at a geometric rate of progression; second, and ever growing ecological

disparity between the numbers of people and the resources available to

support these numbers in the manner to which they are or would like to

become accustomed; and third, and perhaps most important, a quite new

social emphasis on something which is beginning to be called the

quality of life, a something which becomes possible for the first time

in human history because of scientific and technologic development.

These are now being seen by a growing segment of the public as

realities which are within the power of humans to control and there is

quite evidently an increasing determination to do this.

What is

not yet so clearly perceived is that in order to bring this about hard

choices will have to be made with respect to what is to be preserved

and strengthened and what is not, and that this will of necessity

violate and ultimately destroy the traditional Western ethic with all

that this portends. It will become necessary and acceptable to place

relative rather than absolute values on such things as human lives, the

use of scarce resources and the various elements which are to make up

the quality of life or of living which is to be sought. This is quite

distinctly at variance with the Judeo-Christian ethic and carries

serious philosophical, social, economic, and political implications for

Western society and perhaps for world society.

The process of

eroding the old ethic and substituting the new has already begun. It

may be seen most clearly in changing attitudes toward human abortion.

In defiance of the long held Western ethic of intrinsic and equal value

for every human life regardless of its stage, condition, or status,

abortion is becoming accepted by society as moral, right, and even

necessary. It is worth noting that this shift in public attitude has

affected the churches, the laws, and public policy rather than the

reverse. Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced it has

been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of

killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been

a curious avoidance of scientific fact, which everyone really knows,

that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra-

or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics

which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but the taking

of human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under

socially impeccable auspices. It is suggested that this schizophrenic

sort of subterfuge is necessary because while a new ethic is being

accepted the old one has not yet been rejected.

It seems safe to

predict that the new demographic, ecological, and social realities and

aspirations are so powerful that the new ethic of relative rather than

of absolute and equal values will ultimately prevail as man exercises

ever more certain and effective control over his numbers, an uses his

always comparatively scarce resources to provide the nutrition,

housing, economic support, education, and health care in such ways as

to achieve his desired quality of life and living. The criteria upon

which these relative values are to be based will depend considerably

upon whatever concept of the quality of life or living is developed.

This may be expected to reflect the extent that the quality of life is

considered to be a function of personal fulfillment; of individual

responsibility for the common welfare, the preservation of the

environment, the betterment of the species; and of whether or not, or

to what extent, these responsibilities are to be exercised on a

compulsory or voluntary basis.

The part which medicine will play

as all this develops is not yet entirely clear. That it will be deeply

involved is certain. Medicine's role with respect to changing attitudes

toward abortion may well be a prototype of what is to occur. Another

precedent may be found in the part physicians have played in evaluating

who is and who is not to be given costly long-term renal dialysis.

Certainly this has required placing relative values on human lives and

the impact of the physician to this decision process has been

considerable. One may anticipate further development of these roles as

the problems of birth control and birth selection are extended

inevitably to death selection and death control whether by the

individual or by society, and further public and professional

determinations of when and when not to use scarce resources.

Since

the problems which the new demographic, ecologic and social realities

pose are fundamentally biological and ecological in nature and pertain

to the survival and well-being of human beings, the participation of

physicians and of the medical profession will be essential in planning

and decision making at many levels. No other discipline has the

knowledge of human nature, human behavior, heath and disease, and of

what is involved in physical and mental well-being which will be

needed. It is not too early for our profession to examine this new

ethic, recognize it for what it is, and will mean for human society,

and prepare to apply it in a rational development for the fulfillment

and betterment of mankind in what is almost certain to be a

biologically-oriented world society.