First, Do No Harm / by kevin murray

The Hippocratic Oath contains the words "… and never do harm to anyone," and further "I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion."   Virtually all American medical doctors swear an oath or oaths before receiving their medical license to practice and although these oaths vary from school-to-school, they are similar in concept and have as their foundation the code that a medical doctor has an obligation to perform their duties to the benefit of their patients, and to their health and to their life, further that they will perform no actions that will bring shame or discredit to the profession, nor will they cause deliberate harm nor provide lethal drugs to their patients.


It is important that medical doctors take this oath, because as a patient, there is an implicit trust between you and your doctor that any prescriptions and any procedures that you engage in are to your benefit and not deliberately to your harm.  Additionally, we need only to look back at history to see that doctors under the aegis of the State, are not hesitant to perform all sorts of dubious medical procedures such as mandated sterilization, serological experiments, pharmaceutical testing on certain human subjects, infanticide, and euthanasia.  That these procedures are conducted upon human beings at all is abhorrent, that these procedures are conducted by medical doctors is unprincipled.


Medical doctors should be held to a higher standard than other human beings since they have the necessary knowledge that can help or harm our natural life.  In regards to euthanasia, clearly this is an action that no well-meaning doctor can possibly conceive as being within the confines of a good and moral action.  A physician that believes that he has the right or the obligation to terminate the life of a patient has willingly taken a step too far and has consequently disavowed his Oath to his chosen profession. 


In regards to abortion, you have an area of medical practice that has significant moral challenges that are not easily answered.  Because of Roe v. Wade, abortion is legal in all 50 states of the Union; however, the law within those states in regards to how abortion is treated does vary from state-to-state.  The legality of abortion, nonetheless, does not by definition, mean that this is a medical procedure that conforms or adheres to the Oath that medical doctors attest to.   In fact, according to Dr. Rachel Phelps ”… only 2% of obstetricians perform over 50% of all abortions."  The dilemma in regards to abortion is between the woman's right to choose (her body, her choice) and her unborn child's right to life.  America has decided to restrict abortions based on the length of pregnancy in most states, which places abortion in both a legal and moral gray area, in which the answer appears to be that abortions are okay within a certain prescribed amount of weeks, but typically not okay outside of that timeline, with timelines ranging from when the first fetal heartbeat can be detected, to when a fetus can first feel pain, to when a fetus is considered to be viable outside the womb, to no restrictions at all.


The medical profession and its position towards abortion is a great and terrible moral quandary.  This is a tragedy played out on a daily basis, time and time again, leaving a trail of tears.