(The Weekly Standard) – The Hippocratic Oath is dead. “Do no harm” medicine is fast becoming extinct. Contemporary health care is increasingly under the sway of a utilitarian bioethics that makes the elimination of suffering the prime directive—to the detriment of traditional standards of medical morality that deem all human life equally worthy of care and protection.
The prestigious New England Journal of Medicine has been among the instigators of this shift. As early as 2005, the journal published (without significant criticism) the so-called Groningen Protocol—a bureaucratic checklist from the Netherlands that instructs Dutch doctors which terminally ill or seriously disabled babies they can lethally inject. In 2010, NEJM published advocacy in favor of an invidious health-care rationing measure known as the QALY (“quality-adjusted life year”), adoption of which has the effect of limiting care to the disabled and disadvantaged whose lives are bureaucratically rated as lower in quality than the lives of others. CONTINUE