What a Critique of Secular Medicine Gets Right, and What It Misses

In his recent book Losing Our Dignity, Charles Camosy, a Catholic, examines certain disturbing trends in medicine and bioethics regarding children born with severe congenital illnesses, adults suffering from brain damage, and other difficult cases and attributes them to what he terms “the secularization of medicine.” Devorah Goldman writes in her review:

Camosy makes a forceful case that an “irreligious understanding of medicine” has contributed to a distorted view of what makes life worth living. Medical systems often operate on the belief that life can be measured along material lines, dismissing the idea that human life is inherently sacred. In such cases, people who are chronically ill, disabled, or elderly are not given the same consideration as those with the potential to contribute materially to society.

Respecting life at different stages, though, is not the same thing as arriving at a common understanding of death. This is one wrinkle in the book: as technologies for sustaining human organs and basic functions (including breathing) have improved, it has become more challenging to identify death, particularly in cases of catastrophic brain injury. This is less a question of equal care than of life itself, and of our capacity to know when it is over.

Camosy rightfully skewers the [British National Health Service’s] “quality-adjusted life year system,” . . . which is used to determine “whether a treatment or intervention’s cost can be justified.” The NHS employs a tortured calculation based in part on how long a person might be expected to live after receiving treatment, as well as (in the NHS’s language) his “ability to carry out the activities of daily life, and freedom from pain and mental disturbance.” This arbitrary and materialist approach to healthcare places elderly and disabled people at risk of being rejected wholesale by the UK’s medical system.

But in placing all the blame for such grotesqueries on a single trend in a single discipline—bioethics—Camosy misses the broader picture. Specifically, he does not adequately acknowledge how this academic attitude is driven by, or at least interacts with, the political and technological realities of modern medicine.

Read more at American Purpose

More about: Medicine, Secularism


Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security