Last month a lot of negative publicity was given to Virginia Governor Ralph Northam about a picture on his personal page in the Eastern Virginia Medical School 1984 yearbook. He apparently thought it was humorous to feature a character in black face standing next to another person dressed in a Ku Klux Klan costume. I can understand black people not like being made fun of, and my late parents had reason not to think Ku Klux Klan costumes carry much humor, either–but that’s another story.
Dr. Northam could never have been elected governor of Virginia without the support of black supporters. I’m sure Dr. Northam regrets his youthful poor judgement at humor and has apologized to his black friends and supporters. Likely by now they’ve forgiven him, since it was 35 years ago.
Since Republican Ed Gillespie spent millions trying to defeat Northam in the recent election, I’m sure his campaign knew about the yearbook photo but chose not to exploit it.
I think the yearbook page revelation was thrown out as a smokescreen, a brilliant diversion from comments the pediatric neurologist made two days earlier promoting a bill in the Virginia legislature that would allow infanticide–after a baby is born.
Go on YouTube and hear Dr. Northam say an “infant would be delivered, kept comfortable, resuscitated” and then “discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother” on whether or not to end the infant’s life. No mention if the mother would have veto power or if the father or the infant gets a vote.
Ending a person’s life because of mental or physical defects reminds me of Nazi Germany in the 1930’s.
A woman I admire, was born with spinal bifida. She has trouble standing for long periods if she’s speaking to a group, and endurance seems to be a constant issue. But she’s been such an inspiration for so many women she’s led in Bible studies in our three county area. I never knew anyone more loved, esteemed, and respected for biblical knowledge the years Marcia and I attended church with her. What would it be like today if our friend had been voted to die?
The congenital heart defect, Tetrology of Fallot, was often a death sentence until Dr. Alfred Blalock performed the first surgical repair at Johns Hopkins in the 1940’s. Today correcting the defect is very common, and the children grow up, leading normal lives.
Now that the entire human genome has been mapped, the causes for such diseases as sickle cell anemia may be stopped before the end of this century. Out of about 135 million nucleotides on chromosome 11, just one nucleotide, Adenine, is substituted for the nucleotide, Thymine in sickle cell. Stop that exchange and life should be normal.
So what does all this have to do with a dental office?
For over three decades, we have treated mentally and physically handicapped people under general anesthesia in the hospital who can’t be treated in a normal dental office. People Dr. Northam might give thumbs down on life. Some are wards of the state, families having deserted them years ago. Many have family members who love them as much as my wife and I love our two girls. Even though most are not verbal, I feel certain they can feel pain and suffer from dental infections like the rest of us.
My staff and I will continue to respect and give the best treatment we can for the least of these. We are grateful for the compassion and care we have seen extended by so many in pre-op, anesthesia, and post-op at Piedmont Henry.
Maybe some of them will be cured someday and be able to enjoy a meal at Buckner’s–with some teeth.