Monday, February 27, 2012

HHS Mandate and the Hippocratic Oath

Unless you've been living under a rock, most of you probably know that we are in an unprecedented time in our country, where the government is restricting religious freedom. The HHS mandate says that employers must provide free so-called reproductive health products like contraceptives, sterilization and abortions or else pay penalties.

Most people might not realize this, but this is a violation of conscience. Catholic schools and hospitals are not making laws to stop people from using contraceptives, but they shouldn't have to pay for things that they find morally objectionable.

Once upon a time, I was pro-choice too. I have consumed the birth control pills so that I could have premarital sex without fear of pregnancy. My husband and I have changed, but some damage is irreversible. An article by Msgr. Pope shows why contraception is so very wrong. And I can personally attest to the social ills caused by it.


Yesterday Father Tomlinson was visiting our parish and he gave a wonderful homily on why abortion, sterilization and contraception are wrong. We need to hear this truth from the pulpit more often, because so many of us Catholics can be lukewarm about our faith and how we live it. Father gladly let me borrow his notes so that I could share a few quotes:

From Ronald Reagan on Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation:

We will never recognize the true value of our own lives until we affirm the value in the life of others, a value of which Malcolm Muggeridge says: "... however low it flickers or fiercely burns, it is still a Divine flame which no man dare presume to put out, be his motives ever so humane and enlightened."

Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some men could decide that others were not fit to be free and should therefore be slaves. Likewise, we cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide. My administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land, and there is no cause more important for preserving freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have meaning.

I had always wondered how doctors could take the Hippocratic Oath and still perform "medicine" that harms the body (like sterilization) or that actually kills (abortion). I didn't realize that they changed it. Here are a couple of excerpts.

Original: 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.

Revised: I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

Wow! I didn't know that the classic Hippocratic oath had been revised and updated. As Father Tomlinson said, it is playing God when man decides who should live and who should die.

Please pray for our country, which was founded upon Judeo-Christian morals, that we may elect leaders who will guide it to a righteous path.


Bish Denham said...

This is such a personal issue. I totally think that Catholic schools and hospitals should be able to practice as they see fit.

I also think the government needs to stay out of our personal lives.

Vijaya said...

All moral choices are personal, Bish. But we as a society need to protect the most vulnerable.

Yes! The govt. should stay out of personal lives. But if someone is raped in the privacy of a home, we still expect the laws of our country to protect the victim. Any govt. or society that sanctions the murder of innocents, the infirm, the sick ... in the name of personal choice is a society in decline.

dbp said...

Back when I was a researcher at the University of Vermont, a number of the grad students I worked with were getting their MD PhD. That is when I found out that hardly any of the med students take the Hippocratic Oath at all. It is available, but mostly they take the Oath of Geneva, or some such thing.

Vijaya said...

David, the modern one is filled with all these empty platitudes. Too bad that doctors no longer take an oath of "do no harm". Sigh.

dbp said...

Yes Vijaya,

I had much the same response when I found out. Empty platitudes, but also possibly deadly ones.

Imagine you have an illness that is curable but extremely painful and unpleasant. In a moment of despair you might ask your doctor to put you out of your misery. I don't want my doctor to entertain such ideas.

Vijaya said...

Exactly, David. Unfortunately, we live in a culture of death now, where the cure for suffering, inconvenience and any number of maladies is ... death.

Write2ignite said...

Do no harm. Yes. We should ALL take that oath!