Progress in science and health comes slowly. It has taken decades for countless brilliant minds to discover medicines, design biotech equipment and find new laboratory tests devised for the benefit of mankind. The same thing happens with medical ethics. Progress is slow, very slow; there will always be opposing views on the big issues like abortion, in vitro fertilization, euthanasia. As in other areas, Trump has his personal views about world health, the health of U.S. citizens and the validity of bioethics. (For reasons of space, I am not writing here about his attack on Barack Obama’s health care law)
Aware of the many truths of numerous scientists, ecologists, academics and ethicists, Trump, whether with the stroke of a pen or by divine inspiration, has begun to dismantle the efforts and accomplishments of the past few years. The speed of his decisions and the questionable and/or crooked influence of his cronies go beyond the actions of other politicians who have tried to straighten out the world and bring benefits to their people. I believe that sinister figures like Hitler, Mussolini or Stalin consulted more with their subordinates before making a decision than Donald has been doing.
Just like recently, when the billionaire president, in one of his amazingly capricious decisions, decided to brand honest media organizations like CNN, The New York Times and Politico as enemies of the people. Then, days later, without proof, he accused former President Obama of having tapped his private communications during the election, tweeting, “How low has President Obama gone to tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate.” Nothing is out of bounds for Trump. Nothing.
Even though 2016 was the hottest year on record, due to, among other things, the melting of ice in Antarctica, Trump, almost by nature a denier, claims that climate change is a myth created by the Chinese to slow down U.S. competitiveness in several areas. Trump administration policies threaten the earth; they don’t reflect a responsibility to respect the environment. Contrary to his predecessor’s policies, Donald restarted construction projects for two controversial petroleum pipelines–the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access projects–which had been on hold because of the possibility of environmental damage. The consensus among environmental scientists in the U.S. and other countries is meaningless to Trump and his followers. The hackneyed and nauseating slogan “America First” says it all.
In addition to his previous nonsensical statements, he has joined the chorus of those who claim that vaccines cause autism. (In this he differs from the Islamist extremists, who maintain that the vaccines created in the West cause sterility.) It is also likely that in the future, he will cut financial support for the National Institutes of Health, consistent with his rhetoric about job creation. (He also intends to cut support of institutions dedicated to the arts.)
Along with the actions described above, in the incredible turmoil he has caused, the government web page “https.bioethics.gov” which was maintained during previous administrations by ethicists and health policymakers, has been eliminated.
Disabling this resource is consistent with the way Trump has been proceeding. The page offered information about medical ethics issues like those described above, and on topics increasingly relevant to society: cloning, molecular biology, surrogate motherhood, assisted suicide and so forth. The site “bioethics.gov” shared information that was scientific, up-to-date and secular, indispensable for building a modern society.
In his inaugural address, alongside the motto “America First,” Trump outlined his policy with allusions to the Bible and to God. Trump maintained that “…we are protected by God.” These references explain why “bioethics.gov” was disabled.
Fortunately, there are and increasingly will be those who reject Trump’s pseudoscientific positions, which are confirmed and sanctified in his Twitter bible. In the Netherlands, for example, a recent initiative launched a campaign to counteract the effects of Trump policies on reproductive rights. Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen created a fund for the support of the thousands of entities affected by Trump’s anti-abortion policies. The campaign raised 40 million euros in a couple of weeks.
I suspect and hope that well-meaning people in the United States, college graduates or not, will find ways to put a stop to Trump’s tweeted science. His lack of respect for science, a product of his ignorance, is too rude and crude. I suspect and hope that he will end up chasing his own tail.
Notes of an insomniac: There are limits to the irrationality of Trump and his cronies. They themselves are the limits, and the reasons for those limits pertain to science and ethics.
The writer is a medical doctor.