The Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine, now in its 10th edition and translated into 14 languages, carries the Hippocratic Oath on page one.
The published text includes: “I will not give a woman a pessary to procure abortion. But I will keep my life and my art in purity and holiness.”
The attached commentary states: “This oath remains one of the oldest binding documents in history and its principles of commitment, ethics, justice, professionalism and confidentiality transcend time.”
This oath stood for 2,500 years and it was part of all medical graduation ceremonies. Being a doctor was defined by this oath, as a true vocation, second only to the priesthood.
Christ was a healer and, in fact, the majority of his public miracles were physical cures. He was, however, very clear that it was the spirit not the fallible body that really mattered.
So why did he cure so many diseases? It was almost certainly out of love and compassion for those who suffered. He was therefore not only the model for priests but also for doctors.
Then, in the 1960s, everything started to change.
A new version of the Hippocratic Oath excluding the abortion prohibition was drafted. Medical schools started dropping the oath from graduations.
The pill was invented and within 10 years, 10 million women were taking it.
Soon after, pro-abortion laws started being passed and they found doctors who would do abortions.
The new mantra was ‘choice’. It invaded motherhood and medicine– Patrick Pullicino
What happened in the 1960s? Did we suddenly become wiser and find out that Hippocrates was wrong all this time?
After all, he knew nothing about embryology or implantation of the foetus or the definition of time of personhood onset, so how could he know?
So, were the 1960s a new age of enlightenment, of brilliant insight that doctors now could finally understand that we can actually make it part of our caring to prevent birth with contraception and to kill the unborn with abortion?
Even though, unlike Hippocrates, through ultrasound we can see their every heartbeat, breath and smile?
No. It was in fact the start of a new dark age, of throwing out of religious truth, and of oaths we used to live by and instead, of making our fallible selves decide how we ought to act.
The new mantra was ‘choice’. It invaded motherhood and medicine. Some doctors began to see themselves as ‘body mechanics’.
Once they had divested themselves of annoying ethical scruples, they were able to reassign the living rights of a foetus to a doctor.
However, even though some doctors may choose to forget, the goal of medicine is still the reduction of morbidity and mortality of disease (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). This is what doctors should be doing.
Also, in the 1990s, to combat the tendency to ignore these principles, ‘evidence-based’ medicine was started at McMaster University in Ontario and has become a gold standard in medicine.
Its object is to ensure that individual doctors’ biases do not affect the treatment of patients and only scientific research that reduces morbidity and mortality is used to determine medical practice.
Abortion research on the foetus has never been conceivable, where it is all about inducing mortality. Even the little research on mothers, that has not been blocked by politically-correct journals, shows the huge morbidity they suffer from abortion.
Maltese medical graduates are sought after both in the UK and the US not only for their excellent training but also for their reliability and high ethical standards.
It is up to the Medical Council to ensure that Malta’s medical name is not brought down by doctors who publicly repudiate what the council should uphold.
Patrick Pullicino is a Catholic priest in London and retired NHS neurologist.
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