Commentary: A New Medical Pledge
The 2017 Declaration of Geneva
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 02-Dec-17; 11 minutes
Richard Ritenbaugh, examining the current version of the Declaration of Geneva, as adopted in 2017 by the World Medical Association (WMA) General Assembly, compares the philosophy of this document with two of its predecessors: 1.) the Hippocratic Oath and 2.) the original Declaration of Geneva. The Hippocratic Oath is the ancient code of medical ethics in Greece, requiring the physician to uphold high ethical standards in the healing arts, promising to do no harm. Though dated, the Hippocratic Oath remains remarkable for its conservatism, proscribing abortion and euthanasia, while establishing a firm demarcation between right and wrong. The 1948 Declaration of Geneva was a reaction to the experiments performed by some Nazi and Japanese physicians in the 1930s and 40s. It stressed that doctors were duty-bound to protect the well-being and dignity of the patient and to maintain utmost respect for human life. In distinction to its predecessors, the 2017 Declaration of Geneva subtly alters the philosophy of the medical profession. Relativistic in approach, it rejects absolute standards of right and wrong, but rather permits the physician to yield to the whims of the patient, including their demands for abortion, sex change, and physician-assisted suicide. The 2017 Declaration conforms to the liberal's paradigm of the rejection of Christian values while furthering the deconstruction of traditional Western culture.
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