Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hippocratic hypocrisy

From Richard John Neuhaus in First Things...

Here’s a forceful editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine. The editors say in no uncertain terms that nobody should think “that the medical profession will be available to assist in the taking of human lives.” When called upon to kill, doctors should “remember the Hippocratic Oath and refuse to participate.”

The editorial is, as you might expect, in opposition to capital punishment. There is, of course, no mention of abortion or doctor-assisted suicide. About the latter, the NEJM is ambivalent, while it is unequivocally in support of the former. It is encouraging to see the reference to the Hippocratic Oath—which, unfortunately, is not taken in most American medical schools—but the editors’ reading of that venerable text is, to put it gently, very selective.

I had blogged earlier on the limited use and application of the Hippocratic Oath, so it's funny to see it invoked so passionately here!


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