About the week in which Timothy McVeigh was executed by injection I read in an American newspaper that doctors are not allowed to administer the injections – “because it would be against the Hippocratic Oath.”

Hippocrates was a physician who lived in the fifth century before Christ, and the Oath is attributed to him. Up to relatively recent times, well into this century, every doctor in America and Canada took this Oath as a condition for medical qualification. Here is a summary: “I swear by Apollo and all the gods and goddesses, that according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath …. I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked nor suggest such counsel; in like manner I will not give a woman a pessary to produce abortion …. While I continue to keep this Oath unviolated, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and practise the art, respected by all men, in all times. But should I trespass and violate the Oath, may the reverse be my lot.”

If doctors in America are not allowed to inject those condemned to death because it is killing, why are they allowed to perform abortions, which are also killing? The only difference is the innocence of the child killed.

A common argument among those in favour of abortion is that “the fetus is not yet a human being” – therefore it is not murder to abort it. How true is this argument? The truth is that it is not true! I am neither a doctor nor a scientist, but I can read what doctors and scientists have written, and I have done some research on this particular question, the humanity of the preborn child. Quotations are somewhat boring, but I think it is very important that those of us who are pro-life should be able to defend our position. So please read on!

The First International Conference on Abortion held in Washington D.C. in October 1967 brought together authorities from around the world in the fields of medicine, legal ethics and the social sciences. Here is an extract from the official report: “The majority of our group could find no point in time between the union of the sperm and the egg and the birth of an infant at which point we could say that this is not human life.”

A proclamation opposing abortion, signed by 1,300 French physicians and written by Nobel Prize winner, Prof. Jerome Lejeune, read as follows: “From the moment of fertilization the conceptus is alive and is essentially distinct from the mother, who provides nourishment and protection. From fertilization to old age it is the same living being who grows, develops, matures and dies. For these reasons the termination of pregnancy is in direct contradiction to the role of the doctor.”

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, formerly known as “The Abortion King of America,” headed a clinic in the early 1970s which performed 60,000 abortions. He is now probably the greatest defender of the unborn baby in the scientific world. At the Joe Borowski trial in 1983, Dr. Nathanson told the court that he became pro-life when increased study of fetology convinced him that the fetus is a human being. He also testified that he was raised in the Jewish faith, but had since become an atheist. Becoming pro-life, he said, was a “secular decision.”

Dr. Herbert Ratner, executive member of the United States Commission on Human Life, stated, “It is now of unquestionable certainty that a human being comes into existence at the moment when the sperm combines with the egg.”

Sir William Liley, knighted by the Queen for his work on fetology, said, “From the moment a baby is conceived, it bears the indelible stamp of a separate, distinct personality, an individual different from all other individuals.”

In an article in the current (July/August 2001) issue of Catholic Insight, Canada’s own Dr. John Shea writes, “From the very instant of his or her existence, the early human embryo has the inherent moral status of a human being.”