Primum non nocere

by Jennifer Lahl, CBC President on October 4, 2007

Amnesty International wants doctors and nurses out of the lethal injection business for death row inmates. Why you may ask? Because it violates their oath. First, Do No Harm. I am of course a big fan of the Hippocratic Oath which interestingly doesn’t include the famous motto “Do No Harm”. And I am happy to pull out the ancient document and dust it off and use it today. The medical profession could benefit greatly! Honestly, most people probably have never read the oath. And I’m talking about the version Hippocrates wrote not the updated, modernized ones. Hippocrates wrote, “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.”

I wonder what Amnesty International would say about other ways the medical profession breaches their ethical oath? If we profess to ‘do no harm’, then certainly this applies to other matters of bioethic debate!

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