I for one, find it particularly interesting, because these same doctors take the Hippocratic Oath: I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfil according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:
To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art – if they desire to learn it – without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else.
I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice. I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art. I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.
Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves. What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.
If I fulfil this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot. Of course, this is the old version. The newer version is as such: The practice of medicine is a privilege which carries important responsibilities. All doctors should observe the core values of the profession which centre on the duty to help sick people and to avoid harm. I promise that my medical knowledge will be used to benefit people’s health. They are my first concern.
I will listen to them and provide the best care I can. I will be honest, respectful and compassionate towards patients. In emergencies, I will do my best to help anyone in medical need. I will make every effort to ensure that the rights of all patients are respected, including vulnerable groups who lack means of making their needs known, be it through immaturity, mental incapacity, imprisonment or detention or other circumstance. My professional judgement will be exercised as independently as possible and not be influenced by political pressures nor by factors such as the social standing of the patient.
I will not put personal profit or advancement above my duty to patients. I recognise the special value of human life but I also know that the prolongation of human life is not the only aim of healthcare. Where abortion is permitted, I agree that it should take place only within an ethical and legal framework. I will not provide treatments which are pointless or harmful or which an informed and competent patient refuses. I will ensure patients receive the information and support they want to make decisions about disease prevention and improvement of their health.
I will answer as truthfully as I can and respect patients’ decisions unless that puts others at risk of harm. If I cannot agree with their requests, I will explain why. If my patients have limited mental awareness, I will still encourage them to participate in decisions as much as they feel able and willing to do so. I will do my best to maintain confidentiality about all patients. If there are overriding reasons which prevent my keeping a patient’s confidentiality I will explain them. I will recognise the limits of my knowledge and seek advice from colleagues when necessary.
I will acknowledge my mistakes. I will do my best to keep myself and colleagues informed of new developments and ensure that poor standards or bad practices are exposed to those who can improve them. I will show respect for all those with whom I work and be ready to share my knowledge by teaching others what I know. I will use my training and professional standing to improve the community in which I work. I will treat patients equitably and support a fair and humane distribution of health resources. I will try to influence positively authorities whose policies harm public health.
I will oppose policies which breach internationally accepted standards of human rights. I will strive to change laws which are contrary to patients’ interests or to my professional ethics. In either case, old or new, it still states that doctors will not perform abortions. Yet, some do. Some do not physically remove the embryo, but distribute “contraceptives” to remedy the situation. Such forms of contra-ception are a contra-diction. Contra, as defined by Merriam and Webster means against. Such emergency contra-ception presupposes that conception has never taken place.
Literally translated, contraception is against or preventing conception. Yet, the morning after pill will terminate a pregnancy in early stages. There is even such a thing as an abortion pill, which terminates pregnancy in the first trimester. Does not the Hippocratic Oath state something to the effect of not administering or distributing harmful drugs? However, many feel that no one is getting hurt. After all, it is not a baby, it is not fully developed, and therefore, it does not count as a life force; according to who?