John Edwards, mass murderer. Now THAT sounds harsh.
I'm not talking about Senator Edwards's political activity. I'm talking about John Edwards the trial lawyer, and his multimillion dollar persecution of doctors and in particular obstetricians.
Millions of babies are born each year with small or large birth defects - errors of fetal development. In fact, that includes almost all babies; few are born with all their genetic potential properly expressed. The best way to minimize these errors of development are through proper prenatal care, including the education of parents, nutrition, and medical examinations with intervention where necessary.
Many, perhaps most of the health problems ordinary people face in later life, like heart disease, have their roots in imperfect fetal development. The robustness of your heart in your 70's is strongly influenced by how it formed and grew, many months before you were born. Someday, surgical and pharmaceutical interventions during pregnancy may prolong more healthy lives than all the procedures and pills taken in a lifetime after birth.
So what does this have to do with John Edwards, trial lawyer, and his colleagues in persecution?
Simply put, people are willing to spend only so much on prenatal medical care. If they get less out of it, they will spend even less. Young people capable of becoming competent obstetricians are rare, and if the risk to reward ratio becomes more punishing, fewer will go through the grueling training to get there, and fewer will stay with it after they go into practice.
If you add punishment-minded trial lawyers to the mix, the result will be increasingly expensive, increasingly unavailable prenatal care, and no venue for the development of more aggressive treatments and procedures for babies at risk. Simply put, the more money that trial lawyers and their clients take out of the pot, the less there is to prevent the very ills that trial lawyers prey on.
This can be quantified. One study shows that if the total spent on prenatal care increases by $150K, there will (on average) be one fewer crippling birth defect. If we include the hidden defects, like suboptimal embryonic heart development, then $150K buys even more healthy life. So if Edwards and his clients have taken $30 million dollars or more out of the money we spend for bringing children into the world, this implies that he and his clients alone are responsible for 200 dead and damaged babies.
The real victims are the poor, of course. Aren't they always? If obstetricians must raise their rates to pay their malpractice insurance, they must raise their fees. If obstetricians cost too much, poor women don't get prenatal care. They don't get frequent gynecological checkups. The poorly educated ones are trained in the idea that damaged babies are the doctor's fault, rather than something the mothers themselves are empowered to avoid.
In this, like so many other things, the "caring people" who wish to drain the medical system to pay the "victims" have got it exactly ass-backwards. If they really cared, they would go into medicine, and help shoulder the burdens created by their big-talking zero-action friends. If they cared just a little, they would use their brains instead of their "feelings" to look at the situation and at least stop punishing the doctors who are doing what they can to improve infant health. If they were incapable of either curing or even thinking hard, the least they could do is volunteer their own time and money for helping mothers get prenatal care, and help the inevitable unlucky infants with birth defects live out their lives.
But no, we live in an age where "caring" has become a perverted synonym for hypocrisy and misanthropic cruelty. So I am not holding my breath waiting for the lawyers to stop attacking the healers, or the "caring" to stop attacking the helpful. I'll just help the healers and the helpful, and hope that a few of the healed and the helped are paying attention. Because the ranks of those needing healing and help are growing, the opportunities for enlightenment are growing, too.
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