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A Rational Advocate
"The most formidable weapon against errors of any kind is reason"

 Abortion, Euthanasia and the Hippocratic Oath

A few years ago a U.S. District Judge ruled constitutional an Oregon voter-approved law allowing doctors to assist in the death of terminally ill patients. I wonder if this Judge was aware of the contents of the Hippocratic Oath. The Hippocratic Oath is what historically was taken by those entering the medical profession upon graduation from medical school. At one time all reputable medical men considered themselves bound by this oath yet its use seems to have disappeared. In further thought I realized that there could be a reason and it might be in the oath itself. I believe I was right and it is in the following explicit excerpt from that oath.

"I will give no deadly drug to any, though it be asked of me, nor will I counsel such, and especially I will not aid a woman to procure abortion."

This leads me to the following thoughts.

There is a commonality in the view of advocates for both euthanasia and abortion. That is that it should be legal to have either act be aided, abetted or performed by a Doctor. Both pro and con arguments that have been broadly expressed have seemed to disregard the fact that, in both cases, another person is involved in an act that ends a life.

It would seem that allowing another individual to be involved in the death of a human being, whether it be a fetus unable to communicate its desire to live, or an elderly person, under the stresses of pain and suffering, involves very serious implications. This means that hundred of thousands of doctors, who are each a unique individual with different characteristics and traits, are allowed to determine in their own fallible wisdom, whether a life should be taken.  Make no mistake; a patient looks for advice and guidance from their Doctor.  This should be obvious to any one who has ever been administered to by a Doctor.  Thus a Doctor asked to contribute to the death of a fetus or a person, even though medically diagnosed as terminal, is knowingly taking on the responsibility for life and death.

The ethics and morals of society, as we have past known it, condemns the taking of life by another except under conditions of self defense which also would include the legally allowed death penalty and when the life of the mother is at risk.  There is an incongruity between acts that society has viewed as morally and ethically legally punishable mortal crimes and the acts of Doctor assisted termination of life.  Does it make moral sense to allow human beings to make their own arbitrary decision regarding the taking of another person's life?  Doctors certainly have not been endowed with super human god like powers.  What makes us think that the medical title that the educational establishment endows on each of them provides these divine omnipotent powers?

Should a person desire to end their life, whether capable of doing so themselves or not, a Doctor is not endowed with the moral authority to act in any capacity that directly results in their purposeful death. Rather, actions taken to alleviate pain and make life more bearable for their patient to the degree possible would appear to be their responsibility. A morally endowed civilized society accepts the fact that a Doctor should not be required to prolong the life of terminally ill patients. By the same token it should not be acceptable for a Doctor to act unduly to prematurely end it.

In the case of a woman who desires to take that tragic step to abort her fetus and to end its life, where possible morally justifiable conditions do not exist, her only option is to take on the responsibility herself where it fully belongs. She should not involve another party wherein the guilt of taking the life of a human being cannot be morally or ethically denied. A pregnant woman does have choice, and should an abortion be desired is free to select whatever means that her personal views of morality determine are available at that point in time that does not involve another person as a co-perpetrator of the action she takes. This is true choice and the only logical conclusion when one views the morals and ethics on which our civilized society is based.

Perhaps medical doctors, Supreme Court Justices and civilized people living in this world should take the time to read the Hippocratic Oath in its entirety and reflect on the fact that it was written over 2500 years ago for a moral and ethical purpose.

Hippocratic Oath (4th Century BC)

I will look upon him who shall have taught me this Art even as one of my parents. I will share my substance with him, and I will supply his necessities , if he be in need. I will regard his offspring even as my own brethren, and I will teach them this Art, if they would learn it, without fee or covenant. I will impart this Art by precept, by lecture and by every mode of teaching, not only to my own sons but to the sons of him who has taught me, and to disciples bound by covenant and oath, according to the Law of Medicine.

The regimen I adopt shall be for the benefit of my patients according to my ability and judgment, and not for their hurt or for any wrong. I will give no deadly drug to any, though it be asked of me, nor will I counsel such, and especially I will not aid a woman to procure abortion.

Whatsoever house I enter, there will I go for the benefit, of the sick, refraining from all wrongdoing or corruption, and especially from any act of seduction, of male or female, of bond or free. Whatsoever things I see or hear concerning the life of men, in my attendance on the sick or even apart therefrom, which ought not to be noised abroad, I will keep silence thereon, counting such things to be as sacred secrets.

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