"A New Ethic for Medicine and Society".
Editor's note Editor's Note (foaled in 1993 in Kentucky) is an American thoroughbred Stallion racehorse. He was sired by 1992 U.S. Champion 2 YO Colt Forty Niner, who in turn was a son of Champion sire Mr. Prospector and out of the mare, Beware Of The Cat.
Trained by D. . In the early days of abortion `reform,' pro-abortionists insisted their agenda was modest and unassuming. In contrast with this phony humility, few, if any expressions mare candidly can·did
1. Free from prejudice; impartial.
2. Characterized by openness and sincerity of expression; unreservedly straightforward: In private, I gave them my candid opinion. admitted that the agenda of the pro-abortion movement, required the abandonment of the traditional Western ethic's commitment to the "equal value of every human life" than this reprint reprint An individually bound copy of an article in a journal or science communication . This editorial first appeared in the September 1970 edition of California Medicine, a publication of the Western Journal of Medicine. Many younger pro-lifers have heard references to it. We reprint it in its entirety for their edification ed·i·fi·ca·tion
Intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement; enlightenment.
Noun 1. edification - uplifting enlightenment
The traditional Western ethic has always placed great emphasis on the intrinsic worth and equal value of every human life regardless of its stage or condition. This ethic has had the blessing of the Judeo-Christian heritage and has been the basis for most of our laws and much of our social policy. The reverence for each and every human life has also been a keystone key·stone
1. Architecture The central wedge-shaped stone of an arch that locks its parts together. Also called headstone.
2. The central supporting element of a whole. of Western medicine and is the ethic which has caused physicians to try to preserve, protect, repair, prolong pro·long
tr.v. pro·longed, pro·long·ing, pro·longs
1. To lengthen in duration; protract.
2. To lengthen in extent. and enhance every human life which comes under their surveillance. This traditional ethic is still clearly dominant, but there ia much to suggest that it is being eroded e·rode
v. e·rod·ed, e·rod·ing, e·rodes
1. To wear (something) away by or as if by abrasion: Waves eroded the shore.
2. To eat into; corrode. at its core and may eventually even be abandoned. This of course will produce profound changes in Western medicine and in Western society.
There are certain new facts and social realities which are becoming recognized, are widely discussed in Western society, and seem certain to undermine and transform this traditional ethic. They have come into being and into focus as the social by-products of unprecedented technological progress and achievement. Of particular importance are, first, the demographic data of human population expansion which tends to proceed uncontrolled and at a geometric rate of progression; second, an ever-growing ecological disparity between the numbers of people and the resources available to support these numbers in the manner to which they are or would like to become accustomed; and third, and perhaps most important, a quite new social emphasis on something which is beginning to be called the quality of life, a something which becomes possible for the first time in human history because of scientific and technological development. These are now being seen by a growing segment of the public as realities which are within, the power of humans to control and there is quite evidently an increasing determination to do this.
What is not yet so clearly perceived is that in order to bring this about hard choices will have to be made with respect to what is to be preserved and strengthened and what is not, and that this will of necessity violate and ultimately destroy the traditional Western ethic with all that this portends. It will become necessary and acceptable to place relative rather than absolute values on such things as human lives, the use of scarce resources, and the various elements which are to make up the quality of life or of living which is to be sought. This is quite distinctly at variance with the Judeo-Christian ethic and carries serious philosophical, social, economic, and political implications for Western society and perhaps for world society.
The process of eroding the old ethic and substituting the new has already begun. It may be seen most clearly in changing attitudes toward human abortion. In defiance of the long held Western ethic of intrinsic and equal value for every human life regardless of its stage, condition, or status, abortion is becoming accepted by society as moral, right and even necessary. It is worth noting that this shift in public attitude has affected the churches, the laws,
and public policy rather than the reverse. Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced displaced
see displacement. it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent ab·hor·rent
1. Disgusting, loathsome, or repellent.
2. Feeling repugnance or loathing.
3. Archaic Being strongly opposed. . The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death. The very considerable semantic gymnastics gymnastics, exercises for the balanced development of the body (see also aerobics), or the competitive sport derived from these exercises. Although the ancient Greeks (who invented the building called a gymnasium which are required to rationalize ra·tion·al·ize
1. To make rational.
2. To devise self-satisfying but false or inconsistent reasons for one's behavior, especially as an unconscious defense mechanism through which irrational acts or feelings are made to appear abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not often put forth under socially impeccable auspices. It is suggested that this schizophrenic schiz·o·phren·ic
Of, relating to, or affected by schizophrenia.
One who is affected with schizophrenia. sort of subterfuge sub·ter·fuge
A deceptive stratagem or device: "the paltry subterfuge of an anonymous signature" Robert Smith Surtees. is necessary because while a new ethic is being accepted the old one has not yet been rejected.
It seems safe to predict that the new demographic, ecological, and social realities and aspirations aspirations npl → aspiraciones fpl (= ambition); ambición f
aspirations npl (= hopes, ambition) → aspirations fpl are so powerful that the new ethic of relative rather than of absolute and equal values will ultimately prevail as man exercises ever more certain and effective control over his numbers, and uses his always comparatively scarce resources to provide the nutrition, housing, economic support, education, and health care in such ways as to achieve his desired quality of life and living. The criteria upon which these relative values are to be based will depend considerably upon whatever concept of the quality of life or living is developed. This may be expected to reflect the extent that quality of life is considered to be a function of personal fulfillment; of individual responsibility for the common welfare, the preservation of the environment, the betterment bet·ter·ment
1. An improvement over what has been the case: financial betterment.
2. Law An improvement beyond normal upkeep and repair that adds to the value of real property. of the species; and of whether or not, or to what extent, these responsibilities are to be exercised on a compulsory or voluntary basis.
The part which medicine will play as all this develops is not yet entirely clear. That it will be deeply involved is certain. Medicine's role with respect to changing attitudes toward abortion may well be a prototype of what is to occur. Another precedent may be found in the part physicians have played in evaluating who is and who is not to be given costly long-term renal dialysis dialysis (dīăl`ĭsĭs), in chemistry, transfer of solute (dissolved solids) across a semipermeable membrane. Strictly speaking, dialysis refers only to the transfer of the solute; transfer of the solvent is called osmosis. . Certainly this has required placing relative values on human lives and the impact of the physician to this decision process has been considerable. One may anticipate further development of these roles as the problems of birth control and birth selection are extended inevitably to death selection and death control whether by the individual or by society, and further public and professional determinations of when and when not to use scarce resources.
Since the problems which the new demographic, ecologic, and social realities pose are fundamentally biological and ecological in nature and pertain to pertain to
verb relate to, concern, refer to, regard, be part of, belong to, apply to, bear on, befit, be relevant to, be appropriate to, appertain to the survival and well-being of human beings, the participation of physicians and of the medical profession will be essential in planning and decision-making at many levels. No other discipline has the knowledge of human nature, human behavior, health and disease, and of what is involved in physical and mental well-being which will be needed. It is not too early for our profession to examine this new ethic, recognize it for what it is and will mean for human society, and prepare to apply it in a rational development for the fulfillment and betterment of mankind in what is almost certain to be a biologically oriented world society.