Health Care USA: day one

My friend scheduled her baby to be born May 17, at 9:00 AM. The birth can be scheduled precisely because she’ll have a ‘C-section,’ which means her belly will be slit open and the unborn fetus removed. Doctors prefer C-sections to ‘vaginal’ births, because many can be scheduled each day, and they can charge more for them. Let’s say $15,000 for this one. My friend will be kept comfortable in the hospital, surrounded by staff continually reassuring her she’s well cared for, and her family and friends will offer all their encouragement and support.

She could instead have her baby at home, tended by midwives, for about $2,000. The birth would be at least as safe as a hospital birth, and the child would grow into a healthier adult. But if she tries to contact medical people for advice, she will be aggressively rejected; her peers will roll their eyes in shock and relate how their babies would have died outside the hospital; and her family will grieve and plead with her not to threaten the life of their anticipated relative.

Medicine is the secular religion in our country today. It plays the role people once assigned to God. Facing the unknown, we turn to a doctor. Completely submissive and obedient, we follow medical prescriptions carefully, so if something goes wrong we know, at least, we were faithful to the highest authority. We believe we did the best we could.

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