Interim Staff

Pro-life supporters in the United Kingdom are dismayed by reports that the British Medical Association has revised the ancient Hippocratic oath to justify abortion.

According to a report in the Times of London, the British medical group updated the oath at the request of the World Medical Association, for consideration by doctors worldwide.

The original Hippocratic oath, which has guided medical practice since 5,000 B.C., was last updated in 1948. Among the major pillars of the oath are enjoiners that doctors “give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked,” and “not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.”

Ethical framework

The new version says that where abortion is permitted, it should take place within ethical and legal framework. The oath claims to recognize the special value of human life, but says that the prolongation of life is not the only purpose of health care. It adds, “I will not provide treatments that are pointless or harmful or which an informed and competent person refuses.”

In addition to relaxed view of abortion and euthanasia, the new oath weakens the medical profession’s long cherished stand on patient confidentially. It says doctors should “do their best” to maintain confidentiality, but argues there may be situations where it can be breached.

In a move some believe is aimed at promoting improved public relations, the new oath calls on doctors to speak out against substandard practices on the part of colleagues. For years, professional medical privilege has inhibited doctors exposing malpractice by fellow health practitioners.

Although the Hippocratic Oath is more an ideal than a strict guideline, it is often cited by pro-lifers to reveal how the medical profession has been tainted by the abortion industry.