Accepted practice for 2,500 years not relevant to Tassie’s Premier

hippocratic oathQuestion 1: Should Tasmania permit someone who has a persistent desire to die access to active (Doctor provided) facilitation?

Questions 2 and 3, follow if Answer 1 is “yes”.
Question 2: Under what conditions, and limitations?
Question 3: What is the cost, to others, in legislating the freedom of Q1?

For around 2,500 years western medicine has operated with some relationship to the Hippocratic Oath.  While it is pithily summarised into “first do no harm” it is far more complex (and IMO) modern than that.  The proposed Tasmanian legislation (as any euthanasia legislation would be) is a monumental step away from that healer’s oath.

Finding it in translation is virtually effortless (google is amazing)…   here is one version.

I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous.

I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.

With purity and with holiness I will pass my life and practice my Art.

I will not cut persons laboring under the stone, but will leave this to be done by men who are practitioners of this work.

Into whatever houses I enter, I will go into them for the benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and corruption; and, further from the seduction of females or males, of freemen and slaves.

What strikes me quite profoundly, is that in a context of very simple medicine, of limited effectiveness, the oath doesn’t equivocate around euthanasia, or abortion, and how modern in its proscribing sexual predation and breach of privacy.  The argument for Dr assisted suicide is (IMO) less valid in the western world in the 21C then it was in 500BC.

At the moment is seemingly out of reach to get people to seriously debate Q2 and Q3, and it becomes focused on the “human rights” inherent in Q1 – human translates to personal, in this instance not community.

It is how the legislative answers to Q2 and Q3 are framed, that will be significant if Tasmania enacts euthanasia legislation.

It is a pretence to conduct this debate as if it is about the liberty (or infringement of liberty) of a few very sick people, and ignore the broader social impacts, on the disabled, the mentally ill, and the dying who do not want to have a Dr/Patient relationship which moves from the “first do no harm” basis.  In ignoring Q2 and Q3 we are in a “Yes Minister” sense moving in to courageous territory, on a literally life and death matter.


One thought on “Accepted practice for 2,500 years not relevant to Tassie’s Premier

  1. Pingback: Accepted practice for 2,500 years not relevant to Tassie’s Premier « Journeyman

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