Sad to see a prolific author fall on such hard intellectual times. Wednesday, Oxford-educated Richard Land oversimplified C.S. Lewis and misappropriating Reinhold Niebuhr on his way to telling a New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary audience a series of falsehoods about well-known Americans, health reform legislation and the British medical system.
Speaking during the Founder’s Day celebration at his seminary alma mater, the busy Southern Baptist Convention ethics czar could have avoided embarrassing himself merely by doing a little research. According to Paul F. South of Baptist Press:
After age 59 and a half, Land said, British [National Health Service] patients can't get dialysis or open-heart surgery, because they are not deemed cost-effective within that nation's health care system.
British Guardian journalists Denis Campbell and Girish Gupta researched that issue and a long list of other assertions by Republicans and "rightwing commentators in the U.S."
On Land's points, they wrote:
Untrue, says the Department of Health. "There is no ban on anyone of any age receiving any treatment, " said a spokesman. "Whether to prescribe drugs or recommend surgery is rightly a clinical decision taken on a case by case basis."
Growing numbers of patients over 65 with heart conditions are having surgery, including valve repairs and heart bypass surgery, says Professor Peter Weissberg, the British Heart Foundation's (BHF) medical director. For example, the average age at which people have a bypass operation has risen from 58 in 1991 to 66 in 2008.
"The claim that 40% of cancer patients are never able to see an oncologist comes from a 15-year-old study which is completely out of date. Since then we have had the Nice Improving Outcomes Guidance series and the NHS Cancer Plan for England, which has increased the number of cancer consultants and established specialist multidisciplinary teams," said Duleep Allirajah of Macmillan Cancer Support. However, "some people with serious kidney failure are unable to obtain dialysis on the NHS and die", said Tim Statham, chief executive of the National Kidney Federation. "Some parts of the NHS can't cope, because patient numbers are increasing by 6% a year, which is a huge burden. Of about 100 renal units in the UK, probably 20% are working at 100% capacity or above," he added. The claim about open heart surgery is not true, said the BHF's Weissberg. "There's no explicit rationing. Some people don't get treatment, but those decisions are made solely on the basis of clinical criteria and their risk of dying. We only operate on people who are likely to benefit and not die." The three main political parties agree that Britain provides good quality end-of-life care but that access to it can be patchy, depending on location and the patient's condition. The government is working to improve the situation.
Land also falsely argued, according to South, that the Senate health reform bill authored by Max Baucus, D.-Mont., reinstates the so-called "death panels." South fails to note that the "death panels" were never there, and so could be reinstated.
Land's arguments were consistently buttressed with similarly false claims.
Thus he rose on feet of clay to proclaim that "The survival of civilization hangs in the balance."