Reader Matt Holiday says that he sees a religion ghost in the following Reuters story by Carolyn Abate, which describes the problem that California state officials are having finding medical professionals who are willing to take part in the execution of convicted killer Michael Morales. Here is the final section of the story, which contains the direct quote in which Holiday says he sees a ghost:
Dr. Priscilla Ray, chairwoman of the American Medical Association Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, last week condemned the ruling requiring the anesthesiologist's presence.
"The use of a physician's clinical skill and judgment for purposes other than promoting an individual's health and welfare undermines a basic ethical foundation of medicine -- first do no harm," she said. "Requiring physicians to be involved in executions violates their oath to protect lives."
Holiday has a simple question: How many doctors have, in the face of what Pope John Paul II called the "culture of death," actually taken the Hippocratic Oath in its traditional form or in a close translation thereof?
There are questions, of course, about the origins of that phrase "first do no harm." Then again, there are those ancient lines that say: "To please no one will I prescribe a deadly drug nor give advice which may cause his death. Nor will I give a woman a pessary to procure abortion."
UPDATE: Here is the latest on the case from the Los Angeles Times.