Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hippocatic Oath or Another Fundamentalist Load of Crap?

I find it interesting that most all of the crap that spews from the conservative fundamentalist base is mendacious and factitious. That they lie when the truth would have sounded better. My experience with anti-choice individuals and organizations has taught me to always look under the rock they are standing on. I thought I would do a little research on the validity of their latest claims. One of which is "The Hippocratic Oath that physicians swear to, forbids all abortions and euthanasia." Well, all I can say to that is HOGWASH! I hope I can dispel any confusion to their claims.

The most literal translation of the Greek Hippocratic Oath reads:

I swear by Apollo Physician, by Asclepius, by Health, by Heal-all, and by all the gods and goddesses, making them witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture: To regard my teacher in this art as equal to my parents; to make him partner in my livelihood, and when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his offspring equal to my brothers; to teach them this art, if they require to learn it, without fee or indenture; and to impart precept, oral instruction, and all the other learning, to my sons, to the sons of my teacher, and to pupils who have signed the indenture and sworn obedience to the physicians¹ Law, but to none other.
I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but I will never use it to injure or wrong them. I will not give poison to anyone though asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a plan. Similarly I will not give a pessary to a woman to cause abortion. But in purity and in holiness I will guard my life and my art.
I will not use the knife either on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein. Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will do so to help the sick, keeping myself free from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from fornication with woman or man, bond or free. Whatsoever in the course of practice I see or hear (or even outside my practice in social intercourse) that ought never be published abroad, I will not divulge, but consider such things to be holy secrets.
Now if I keep this oath and break it not, may I enjoy honour, in my life and art, among all men for all time; but if I transgress and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me.

(It does not read ALL TYPES of Abortion) It only refers to pessary. Plus, most medical schools do not even pledge to this oath.


The following points are made by Howard Markel (New Engl. J. Med. 2004 350:2026):

1) Although many scholars dispute the exact authorship of the writings ascribed to the ancient physician Hippocrates, who probably lived sometime between 460 and 380 B.C., the oath named for him is simultaneously one of the most revered, protean, and misunderstood documents in the history of medicine.(1) To begin with, it is often misquoted. For example, the mantra of "First, do no harm" (a phrase translated into Latin as "Primum non nocere") is often mistakenly ascribed to the oath, although it appears nowhere in that venerable pledge. Hippocrates came closest to issuing this directive in his treatise Epidemics, in an axiom that reads, "As to diseases, make a habit of two things -- to help, or at least, to do no harm." Secondly, there are many scholars who dispute that Hippocrates even wrote the Oath.

2) Many physicians practicing today are surprised to learn that the first recorded administration of the Hippocratic Oath in a medical school setting was at the University of Wittenberg in Germany in 1508 and that it did not become a standard part of a formal medical school graduation ceremony until 1804, when it was incorporated into the commencement exercises at Montpellier, France.(2) The custom spread in fits and starts on both sides of the Atlantic during the 19th century, but even well into the 20th century relatively few American physicians formally took the oath. According to a survey conducted for the Association of American Medical Colleges in 1928, for example, only 19 percent of the medical schools in North America included the oath in their commencement exercises.(3) With the discovery of the atrocities that were committed in the name of medicine during World War II and the growing interest in bioethics in the succeeding decades, oath taking began playing an increasing part in graduation ceremonies.(4)

3) Today, nearly every US medical school administers some type of professional oath to its share of about 16,000 men and women who are eager to take possession of their medical degrees. Yet it is doubtful that Hippocrates would recognize most of the pledges that are anachronistically ascribed to him. Such revisionism is hardly unique to our era. Indeed, the tinkering with Hippocrates' oath began soon after its first utterance and generally reflected the changing values, customs, and beliefs associated with the ethical practice of medicine.

4) Consequently, there are stark differences between the promises made in the original version and the oaths sworn today. To take the most obvious example, few if any of us now believe in the ancient Greek gods Apollo, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panaceia, and we therefore no longer pledge allegiance to them. Indeed, the evidence indicates that spirituality in general -- regardless of its form -- now has a distant relationship with medical science: a "content analysis" of the oaths administered at 147 US and Canadian medical schools in 1993 showed that only 11 percent of the versions invoked a deity.(5)

5) There are two highly controversial vows in the original Hippocratic Oath that physicians continue to ponder and struggle with as a profession: the pledges never to participate in euthanasia and abortion.(1) These prohibitions applied primarily to those identified as Hippocratic physicians, a medical sect that represented only a small minority of all self-proclaimed healers. The Hippocratics' reasons for refusing to participate in euthanasia may have been based on a philosophical or moral belief in preserving the sanctity of life or simply on their wish to avoid involvement in any act of assisted suicide, murder, or manslaughter. We have fairly reliable historical documentation, however, that many ancient Greeks and Romans who were confronted with terminal illness preferred a quick, painless death by means of poison to letting nature take its course. Moreover, there were no laws in the ancient world against suicide, and it was not uncommon for physicians to recommend this option to a patient with an incurable disease. Similarly, abortion, typically effected by means of a pessary that induced premature labor, was practiced in both ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Many Christian revisions of the Hippocratic Oath, especially those written during the Middle Ages, prohibited all abortive procedures. Not surprisingly, the contentious debate over both of these issues continues today, although the relevant sections are simply omitted in most oaths administered by US medical schools. As of 1993, only 14 percent of such oaths prohibited euthanasia, and only 8 percent prohibited abortion.(5)

References (abridged):

1. Edelstein L. The Hippocratic Oath: text, translation and interpretation. In: Temkin O, Temkin CL, eds. Ancient medicine: selected papers of Ludwig Edelstein. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1967:3-64

2. Nutton V. What's in an oath? J R Coll Physicians Lond 1995;29:518-524

3. Carey EJ. The formal use of the Hippocratic Oath for medical students at commencement exercises. Bull Assoc Am Med Coll 1928;3:159-66

4. Smith DC. The Hippocratic Oath and modern medicine. J Hist Med Allied Sci 1996;51:484-500

5. Orr RD, Pang N, Pellegrino ED, Siegler M. Use of the Hippocratic Oath: a review of twentieth century practice and a content analysis of oaths administered in medical schools in the U.S. and Canada in 1993. J Clin Ethics 1997;8:377-388

So, onward through the fog. Keep up the good fight, to save and maintain every woman's right to choice. As President William Clinton once stated "Abortion should be safe, legal and rare."

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

"Good Job Tex"

Looking through a few statistical sites the other evening, I ran across some interesting facts on our beloved Texas. Isn’t it a joy to be from a state with such gleaming statistics?

Comparing Texas to the rest of the United States:
The lowest percentage of population over 25 with a high school degree or higher.
Lowest expenditure per capita on library operations.
Lowest number of paid librarians per capita.
Lowest percentage of children in excellent or very good health.
Lowest percent of occupied housing units with fuel oil, kerosene, as principle heating fuel.
Third lowest percentage of people over 25 years old who have completed high school (including equivalency).
Third lowest percentage of U.S. citizens (of those reporting) between 18 and 24 years old who voted in the 2004 election.
Third lowest percentage of eligible voters over 18 who voted in the 2004 election.
Fifth lowest percent of women 18 and older who report having had a pap smear within the last three years.
Forty-fifth (45th) health index by state. This rate states 1-50 on being the healthiest state in the U.S.
Forty-fifth ranking for best states to live in.

We also have:
Sixteen percent abortion rate.
15.6% binge drinkers
51.7% casual drinkers
5.2% heavy drinkers
Chlamydia rate is 317.7 per 100,000
24% obesity rate
Loss of natural teeth 16.6%
Prevalence of poor mental health 34.3%

Don’t fret. Texas has several top rankings.

Number one in the nation in:
Lethal Injections
Total executions 1977-2004
Total executions 2005
Total executions since 1930
Women under the jurisdiction of State or Federal correctional authorities
Coal consumption
Gasoline consumption
Oil consumption
Teen birth rate per 1000

Texas is number two (2) in:
Forcible rape
Chlamydia rate
Gonorrhea rate
Iraq war casualties
Estimated number of illegal immigrants

Texas is number three (3) in:
Aggravated assault
Violent crime
Obesity rate
Exports to China

Texas in number four (4) in:
Sexual orientation hate crimes
Cumulative AIDS cases all ages
Deaths due to HIV

Texas has achieved the dubious distinction, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, of having the dirtiest air in America, of ranking 47th in water quality, and having the seventh-highest rate of release of toxic industrial byproducts onto its land.

A few more great facts about Texas.• Texas spends almost 3x the dollars per prisoner ($20,000/yr) as they do per school student ($7,100).
• #1 in pollution, 50th in open space protection.
• #2 in income inequality between the rich and poor.
• #48 in the amount of bank deposits that re-channel back into the community as business loans. (In other words, the banks rake it in but don't loan in the 'hood)
• 50th in residential electric bill affordability.
• 1st Percentage of Uninsured Children
• 2nd Income Inequality Between the Rich and the Poor
• 1st Percentage of Population without Health Insurance
• 47th Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) Scores
• 50th Percentage of Population over 25 with a High School Diploma
• 50th Percentage of Non-Elderly Women with Health Insurance
• 44th Rate of Women Aged 40+ Who Receive Mammograms
• 5th Cervical Cancer Rate
• 43rd Women's Voter Registration

Texas has the highest rates for home insurance,

Isn’t time that we, as Texans and neighbors to other states that care about the environment and health of others, to step up to the plate and change how we all alive? We should be trying to improve our State and the Earth and not have the belief that it is up to someone else to do it. Just because you are Texan doesn’t mean you should destroy lives and the environment without guilt. It is truly a disgrace to read the published statistics regarding our State and its citizens.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007