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The Oath of St. Luke

Abortion will lose federal protection but remains ingrained in medical education. To break this will require a new physician’s oath.

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With the impending overruling of the two Abortion Precedents of the Supreme Court, good-hearted medical educators – and clergy – must re-evaluate the worst neglect by the medical educational establishment. That establishment has watered down the Oath of Hippocrates. Furthermore they have trained students who honor it more in the breach than otherwise. It’s time to address and correct that error.

Dropping abortion from the Oath of Hippocrates

Shortly after the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), medical schools everywhere faced a problem. Hippocrates of Cos, who set the standards of their profession, forbade abortion in his famous Oath. He made his students swear:

I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

But by 1985, when your editor graduated from Baylor College of Medicine, that was no longer part of the Oath. Yet that part remained – on a corridor wall in the basement level of the original Vanderbilt University Hospital, where I trained in Clinical Pathology for three years. Nothing better illustrates the cognitive dissonance of my former profession than that.

Nor do I absolve the clergy in this matter. They could and should have stepped up to reach out to doctors in training, to offer them the spiritual guidance they are not getting in medical school. Make no mistake: medical schools are atheistic institutions, that teach dog-eat-dog evolution as a basic theory of life.

Religious colleges must start now to establish medical schools of their own. Religious hospitals should offer chaplain’s services to doctors and nurses as well as patients. And good-hearted medical school deans must start requiring their graduates to swear a new Physician’s Oath.

Your editor has now composed one, based on the 2002 Michael North translation of the Oath of Hippocrates. Call it the Oath of Saint Luke, which I name after the Evangelist of that name.

The Oath of Saint Luke

I swear by the memory of Luke the physician, and take the Father, Son and Holy Spirit as my witnesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath and this contract:

  • To honor God as the Author of Life and the True Patron of the physician’s art, and
  • To practice this art for the benefit of my patients, in keeping with the commandments of God to respect all human life.

I will prescribe dietary, medicinal, and other regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgment. In so doing I will do no harm or injustice to anyone.

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan. Furthermore I will not give a woman food or supplement, nor perform on her any procedure, to cause an abortion.

In purity and according to God’s Commandments will I carry out my life and my art.

I will perform no procedure I am not qualified to perform, but will leave this to those so trained.

Forbidding of abuse or breach of confidentiality

Into whatever homes I go, I will enter them for the benefit of the sick. I will avoid any voluntary act of impropriety or corruption, including the seduction of women or men, free or inmate.

Whatever I see or hear in the lives of my patients, whether in connection with my professional practice or not, which ought not to be spoken of outside, I will keep secret, as considering all such things to be private.

So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all for all time. However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, may the opposite be my lot.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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[…] services for graduating medical students, where they swear a real Physician’s Oath. Call it the Oath of Saint Luke. Throw out the Greek mythological trappings – and put back in what the medical schools took out. […]

[…] All this shows that the country must come to grips with the meaning of life, and much else. In line with becoming a civilizational state, America needs a comprehensive religious awakening. The great experiment with a secular state has run its course, with disastrous results. A civilization won’t survive when the practitioners of the healing arts practice, or condone, killing human beings for convenience. Hippocrates of Cos recognized that – and Luke the Physician certainly would. […]

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