Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Cause of Abortion

I frequently hear "pro-life" Democrats/liberals say they think the solution to abortion is to deal with the causes of abortion.

They'll tell you abortion is caused by things like poverty, poor birth control education, and social stigmas against unwed mothers. And, of course, the solution to this situation is to have free and liberal abortion laws while throwing lots of money at these problems.

If that is the cause of abortion, maybe, just maybe, that will help. But if it's not?

What if abortion is caused by selfishness?

If a woman has an abortion because "I'm not ready" or "this will interfere with my plans," what will ever change that? As long as people expect the world to revolve around them, there will always be inconvenient babies, and abortion will always be a useful tool to protect their self-interest.

We cannot get rid of abortion by making it no longer "necessary." It will only go away when it is no longer acceptable.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Further Schizophrenia on Abortion

"Scores of healthy foetuses die every year because most hospitals do not give pregnant women what the NHS says is the best test for Down's syndrome.

Dr Anne Mackie, the head of NHS screening programmes, estimated 146 babies a year in England who do not have any abnormality are lost as a result of efforts to detect children with the genetic condition."

The good doctor calls this situation "scandalous and disgraceful." Read the whole story, and you'll get no suggestion that it is in any way unacceptable to abort a baby with Downs. You'll also get no suggestion that it is in any way unacceptable to abort a baby for any other reason.

According to pro-choice rhetoric, it's perfectly fine and morally neutral to abort a child for any reason. You can do it because his timing is inconvenient ("I'm not ready" or "I need to finish school first"), because your chosen method of birth control failed, or because he won't ever be able to live up to your hopes and dreams ("I'm too poor" or a birth defect).

But if the fetus is indeed nothing but a pre-life or potential person, then what does it matter if you accidentally abort one that didn't actually have anything wrong? ("Well, turns out that mole wasn't cancerous.")

If it's a tragedy because a valuable and precious member of the human race died, then every abortion is a tragedy. If it's a tragedy because some mother's heart was broken, then it's always a tragedy.

And if we can't see how we all seem to instinctively know abortion is wrong, that's a tragedy.

America’s Schizophrenic Stance on Abortion

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Day Job

For the longest time I was vague, if not silent, about my day job in case my wife stumbled across this blog -- so she couldn't prove it was mine (long story for another time). But since I've been outed, I can be more forthcoming.

I am a medical dosimetrist. These days you can actually major in that at some schools, but most of us have degrees in physics or biology if we have a degree at all -- many don't, having come through a series of technical programs. Me, I have a BS in physics, and I stumbled providentially into a field that makes good use of my background without requiring me to do any actual physics.

So what do I do? For a given patient, the radiation oncologist will determine where the tumor is (or was) and might be and will tell me how much radiation he wants to give those areas. My job is to determine how to deliver that radiation to the tumor while minimizing the dose to normal tissues.

That is the fun part and, often, the hard part because many types of cancer cells are much harder to kill than normal cells. For example, lung cancer is typically given about 70 Gray (Gy); healthy lung dies at less than a third of that, 20Gy. When the tumor is nestled up between the heart, cord, esophagus, and lungs, it can be difficult to get enough dose to the tumor (and sometimes we just can't).

This job gives me a great way to help people without getting yucky stuff on my clothes. It can be very difficult, but it often allows me to be very creative. But the hardest thing about the job is not the work but the people. Specifically, doctors.

Talk to anyone in health care and you'll get pretty much the same response: "It'd be a great job if it weren't for doctors." That's not to say some aren't great. I've worked with some doctors who are absolutely fabulous people. But there are an awful lot of doctors who have extremely exaggerated opinions of their own importance and staggeringly low opinions of everyone else's. Theories abound as to why, but a lot of physicians (in any specialty, not just mine) are just jerks. A lot of doctors are just plain folks, but a lot of doctors think doctors are more valuable than human beings.

Why do I tell you this? Because I think it's why I'm in health care.

I said I think I stumbled across this field providentially, and I think part of the reason was to teach me submission.

You see, doctors run health care. Non-doctors -- whether they're nurses, accountants, lawyers, or policemen -- all report ultimately to a doctor. And doctors tend to stick together. So they have all the political power. And they know it.

So if you work with a doctor who is kind and humble and reasonable, you're lucky. And if you work with one who is arrogant, abusive, or a little stupid*, you're stuck.

And so I have to learn to take requests from thoughtful doctors and demands from nasty ones as if they were delivered the same way. I have to offer my ideas to doctors who will listen and carefully consider what I have to say and to doctors who will disregard me simply because I'm not a doctor (for the patient's sake, you have to try). And sometimes I have to work late on a case for a doctor who will be very appreciate of the extra effort, and sometimes it's for a doctor who believes I should be honored to be in the same room as him.

So how's learning submission going? Yeah, I'll get back to you on that. It's not easy. It's not fun. It's not pretty. But in the end I think I'll be more like Jesus than I would have been otherwise.

*What do you call a guy who graduates at the bottom of his medical school class? Doctor.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lewis on Temptation

I'm working my way through CS Lewis' space trilogy, and currently I'm reading the second book, Perelandra.

Early in the book, one of the characters has to face an invisible onslaught of demonic opposition -- enemies who do not want him to complete his journey to assist the main character in the war against the forces of evil. The barrage comes in the form of doubts, fears, and temptations that are whispered into his "ear."

The main character, Ransom, tells him, "Oh, they'll put all sorts of things into your head if you let them.... The best plan is to take no notice and keep straight on. Don't try to answer them. They like drawing you into interminable argument."

That seems like good advice when facing any temptation. Trying to argue with a sinful desire only lets it burrow deeper into your mind. It seems to get less odious simply because it's been hanging around so long. The best approach, as Ransom says, is to tell it, "No!" and go on.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Lost and Alone in Sin City

After a super busy month at work (the last few months, really), I'm being sent to a class in Las Vegas for a week. 

By myself. In a city that caters to every one of a man's worst impulses. For a week.

Despite the old canard, what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas. Yet temptation is always present and usually quite powerful.

Lord, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from Evil.