American Board of Physician Specialties: Code of Ethics (8 March 2015)–A Critique in Light of Abortion Practice

As a Diplomat of a recognized Specialty Board affiliated with the American Board of Physician Specialties, I pledge to:

  • Maintain the highest standard of personal conduct
  • Promote and encourage the highest level of medical ethics in medicine
  • Maintain loyalty to the goals and objectives of the American Board of Physician Specialties
  • Recognize and discharge my responsibility and that of the profession to uphold the laws and regulations relating to the practice of medicine
  • Strive for excellence in all aspects of my medical practice
  • Use only legal and ethical means in the provision of care to my patients
  • Provide patient care impartially; provide no special privilege to any individual patient based on the patient’s race, color, creed, sex, national origin or handicap
  • Accept no personal compensation from any party that would influence or require special consideration in the provision of care to any patient
  • Maintain the confidentiality of privileged information entrusted or known to me by virtue of my role as a physician
  • Cooperate in every reasonable and proper way with other physicians and work with them in the advancement of quality patient care
  • Use every opportunity to improve public understanding of the role of the specialist physician
  • Abide by the highest ethical standards in activities designed to attract patients to my practice

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Commentary

  • Maintain the highest standard of personal conduct

This point is hard to reconcile with willful killing of human beings–literally making every abortion doctor a killer. When the “highest standard of personal conduct” includes killing human beings one is left wondering why not have the “high” standards instead revolve strictly around preserving, protecting, and extending life, health, wholeness, etc.

  • Promote and encourage the highest level of medical ethics in medicine

The same point as above can be iterated here, but another problem arises. the term “medical” has normally been a sign of healthcare, well-being, and affirming life. Philosophers of Medicine may debate strict definitions of the term, but it remains beneath question whether medicine has been overwhelmingly occupied with health and life. It becomes referentially incoherent to define medicine to include both the protection and destruction of life; preserving and foster health while obstructing and ending it in another patient. The notions of “ethics” and the “medicine” both threaten to undermine abortion as inconsistent, if not contradictory to medical ethics.

  • Maintain loyalty to the goals and objectives of the American Board of Physician Specialties

This point of ethics is measured according to the integrity and quality of the “goals and objectives” of the ABPS. To the extent that those goals/objectives are good and right then it is likewise good and right to be loyal to those. 

  • Recognize and discharge my responsibility and that of the profession to uphold the laws and regulations relating to the practice of medicine

Again, the reference here is only as good or right as the reference point.  Obviously, it’s a good idea to stay within the law, but there are at least some cases where the law has been unethical. At that point, one is bound to break the law, but for the sake of also honoring the government (a good thing) one should break the law in the most civilized and honorable way possible such as compliance with arresting officers, exercising one’s civil rights, being gracious and respectful, etc. Regarding laws about abortion, the pro-life advocate is responsible to honor the law as far as they are ethically permitted. And if they are ever being compelled to violate their religious or conscientious objections, they are ethically bound to disobey the law but in the most respectful and honorable way possible. Moreover, the U.S. rule of law admits a host of ways to amend laws and rights to better reflect our practical access. Pro-life advocates would do well to use these means of civilized political advocacy such as freedom of press, freedom of assembly, freedom to petition the government, etc. and, in the mean time, abstain from situations where they might be pressured to violate their conscience.

  • Strive for excellence in all aspects of my medical practice

If “excellence” is to be taken in a non-ethical sense then abortion could be admitted here. There are “better” and “worse” ways to conduct an abortion. Some cases could be late term, unskilled, and needlessly dangerous to the mother. An “excellent” abortion would then be one which minimizes pain and suffering (not including that of the child), is relatively quick and efficient, with no lasting physical damage or psychologically tramautizing manner–such as irreverent joking from the medical staff, brutish and insensitive bedside manner, etc. However to say that an abortion is “excellent” is pretty callous since killing human beings is far from “excellent” in the more common and wider sense of the word. Grossly unethical or questionable practices might be “excused” or “permitted” but the notion of “excellence” doesn’t seem to fit.

  • Use only legal and ethical means in the provision of care to my patients

Legality isn’t a problem for most abortion providers–abortion on demand is legal in most states fir the first and second trimesters with few/any restrictions on one’s reasons for aborting. However the notion of “ethical” can be challenged since, at best, abortion might be ethically permitted in dilemma contexts, where some greater evil is at looming if the mother opts against abortion. But it’s a bit simplistic, if not errant to call abortion “ethical” in the sense of being a “good” thing. Of course, pro-choice and pro-life advocates debate over what would qualify as a “greater good” or “lesser evil” in abortion settings. Is the mother’s arbitrary will a “greater good” than the entire life of the baby? Is the mother’s trauma from rape a sufficient ailment to justify abortion? At minimum, abortion is not clearly or neatly included in the “ethical means” mentioned here.

  • Provide patient care impartially; provide no special privilege to any individual patient based on the patient’s race, color, creed, sex, national origin or handicap

A note of social justice here points out that doctor care can, unfortunately, be biased towards wealthy patients. But, worse than that, doctor can also be biased towards patients patients who share in race, color, creed (etc.) with the doctor. Doctors can and should be aware of their propensity for discrimination and injustice regarding patient care.

Abortion raises a stiff challenge here since abortion always discriminates against a the most helpless, most defenseless, least vocal party in the room. Abortion always discriminates against human beings on the basis of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependence (what pro-lifers nickname the “SLED” tactic, the acronym for these criteria). Moreover, abortion policy currently allows for willful discrimination against the unborn for reasons stated above. If the mother does not like hispanics but her child-in-utero is half-hispanic she can abort that child for that reason. If she wanted a boy baby but it’s a girl, she can kill it. If she wanted a child without handicap but the child has downsyndrome, she can kill it. If they child will be legally bound to it father and that father is liable to raise the child in his religion, creed, or ethical traditions then she can kill it to prevent that from happening. All these manners of discrimination are legal and defensible under current abortion policy.

  • Accept no personal compensation from any party that would influence or require special consideration in the provision of care to any patient.

Here Doctor’s are discouraged from taking bribes and succumbing to various means of monetary coercion. The abortion industry, however, admits a monetary aspect which perpetually biases abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood in favor of the “money maker” (abortions) instead of, for example, pap smears, breast cancer screenings, contraception, awareness programs, and any of the other, less profitable, means of care for women. Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood director in Bryan, Texas, points to this business aspect–profiting off of abortion, and “pushing” for more abortions–as a key factor that pushed her out of Planned Parenthood and into the ranks of pro-life ministries.

  • Maintain the confidentiality of privileged information entrusted or known to me by virtue of my role as a physician

Abortion practices, in most states, allow for the mother to remain confidential regarding her visits to an abortion clinic, her seeking or procuring an abortion. Unfortunately, this manner of privacy might go too far since the neither father, nor the rest of the family (apart from the mother) has any legal say regarding the fate of that child if the mother decides to have an abortion. Most states do not even require that the father, or grandparents be notified. Doctor patient confidentiality is an important and sacred right in medicine, but it may have gone to far if it means secret death for the child who is, biologically, the offspring of both the father and mother, and it that child is genetically “half” his. Notification rights present a relevant and important objection to confidentiality laws in Abortion.

  • Cooperate in every reasonable and proper way with other physicians and work with them in the advancement of quality patient care

Abortion is fundamentally uncooperative, since the rest of the modern medicine is dedicated preserving life, reducing pain, and facilitating health. Abortion militates against all of those by killing human beings, often in ways that are needlessly painful to the mother (she doesn’t need to feel the pain or trauma of an abortion; it’s a purely elective procedure), and while are the height of harm to the child. Nor is it cooperating with neonatal wards or pediatrics wards to kill their would-be patients in-utero.

  • Use every opportunity to improve public understanding of the role of the specialist physician

By conflating modern medicine with killing, abortion-choice has effectively generated widescale misunderstanding about the role of physicians, the nature and idea of medical practice, and nature and value of developing human beings in-utero. Idealistically, some abortion-choice advocates may be innocent of the more egregious errors here, but Abortion clinics, for example, have been known to encourage higher rates of abortion, for example, to raise revenue and have been known to mischaracterize the facts and mislead onlookers. For example, abortion should not be defined as “terminating a pregnancy” since child-birth also terminates a pregnancy. Any definition of abortion that can’t distinguish between abortion and childbirth is not a good definition.

  • Abide by the highest ethical standards in activities designed to attract patients to my practice.

Granting the above critique, abortion fails to qualify as ethical much less as “the highest ethical standards.” Media efforts surrounding abortion-choice, often with aggressive support from abortion providers, have included the highly misleading democratic campaign of 2012 “Stop the Republican War on Women” and a wide range of radical and left-wing slanders against pro-choice positioning. To be fair, there are many abortion-choice advocates who shun such propogandist practices. But even without such overzealous marketing from Planned Parenthood, and Left Wing activists, there remains a fundamental duplicity in marketing the willful killing of innocent human beings as a “medical practice.”  It is not a “high ethical standard” to promote abortion as if it’s therapeutic in nature.

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About intelligentchristianfaith

Married man. Teacher. Theologian. Philosopher. Workout nut. Prefer cats to dogs. Coffee buff. Transplant to Texas. Carolina Panthers fan. Perpetually pursuing the world's best burger.
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