The Hippocratic Oath and abortion

Science is quite clear that life begins at conception.  Just go read any secular embryology textbook.  The pro-abortion forces have had to shift to poorly conceived philosophical arguments to justify the killing of unborn human beings.

But what did doctors and other reproductive professionals such as Planned Parenthood think about abortion before recent scientific discoveries?  Did they think the unborn were just blobs of tissue and that abortion was morally benign?  Let’s see.

First, a look at the original Hippocratic Oath.  The removal of the prohibitions against abortion in the latest revisions of the oath were done in our more “enlightened” scientific days.

The Hippocratic Oath is an oath traditionally taken by physicians pertaining to the ethical practice of medicine. It is widely believed that the oath was written by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in the 4th century BC, or by one of his students. It is thus usually included in the Hippocratic Corpus. Classical scholar Ludwig Edelstein proposed that the oath was written by Pythagoreans, a theory that has been questioned due to the lack of evidence for a school of Pythagorean medicine. Although mostly of historical and traditional value, the oath is considered a rite of passage for practitioners of medicine, although it is not obligatory and no longer taken up by all physicians.

The original oath:

I swear by Apollo, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses, to keep according to my ability and my judgment, the following Oath.
To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art.

I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone.

If I keep this oath faithfully, may I enjoy my life and practice my art, respected by all men and in all times; but if I swerve from it or violate it, may the reverse be my lot.

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.

But I will preserve the purity of my life and my arts.

I will not cut for stone, even for patients in whom the disease is manifest; I will leave this operation to be performed by practitioners, specialists in this art.

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves.

All that may come to my knowledge in the exercise of my profession or in daily commerce with men, which ought not to be spread abroad, I will keep secret and will never reveal.

Also consider that at late as 1964 even Planned Parenthood was publicly pro-life:

Is it [birth control] an abortion?

Definitely not. An abortion kills the life of a baby after it has begun. It is dangerous to your life and health. It may make you sterile so that when you want a child you cannot have it. Birth control merely postpones the meaning of life.

There you have it! Straight from the experts at Planned Parenthood. Read that again and try not to drown in the irony.

So Planned Parenthood used to teach that abortion kills a baby and poses medical risks to the mother, and the “unenlightened” doctors viewed abortion as immoral for a couple thousand years.

What did Planned Parenthood and other medical practitioners learn since the early 1960’s that caused them to change their stance on what abortion really does?  What do they know that Hippocrates et al didn’t know 2,000 years earlier?

Could it be scientific advancements such as sonograms and 4-D ultrasounds? No, those do more than anything to promote the pro-life view. Technology is the enemy of pro-legalized-abortionists and it always will be. They might have gotten away with the “blob of tissue” argument in the 60’s, or 400 years B.C., but not today.

Could it be the studies showing the impact of abortion on women? No. Despite major political pressure, more studies continue to show the adverse impact abortion has on women – both physically and emotionally.

No, even non-Jewish / non-Christian types like Hippocrates and Planned Parenthood used to know that abortion was wrong.  It takes a lot of effort and a deliberate ignorance of scientific facts to rationalize otherwise.

12 thoughts on “The Hippocratic Oath and abortion”

  1. the quote from a pp brochure from 1964 really surprised me. we shuld pose to pp the question: what has changed? while we show them material form their facilites from 1964 and some from today. let them answer for us.



  2. The answer is 1 Timothy 6:10 ” the love of money is the root of all evil”. Consider how much you can charge for contraceptives versus what you can charge for an abortion.


  3. The desire to engage in consequence-free sex is what drives the demand for abortion. Don’t you know that to deny one’s self the pleasures of the flesh means horrifying death?!!! To enjoy that momentary spasm is far more important than anything else in the world and in fact is the only reason we are put on this planet—to pleasure ourselves!!! Let nothing or no one stand in our way!! We shouldn’t have to control ourselves and act responsibly, should we?


  4. I think that Paul fella hit it on the head with Romans 1:18ff… God’s wrath being poured out on all who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…

    Unfortunately, abortion is part of that wrath on our culture. Hopefully the church will continue to take up the mantle of the unborn and downtrodden as we have historically done. Even in the early days of the church, believers were taking up the cause of those children cast aside…


  5. Most supporters of the “right to choose” abhor even the term, “Pro-life.” I’m not sure how much more simple it can be. There is living tissue from the moment of conception, and abortion terminates that life. Thus, being against abortion is being, “pro-life.” Avoiding the term, however, is the loophole doctors conveniently use to get around the hypocratic oath that they took. If it is not a life, then they are not taking a life.
    This is a huge social issue, and has many implications on our society. I really wish our government would fund research that discovers why women feel the need to end life, and address those issues. Women carelessly get pregnant, and see no problem with terminating their pregnancy for the sake of convenience. And this is considered a right protected by our constitution. It is a sad commentary on our country.


  6. the question and answer is not “right” or “wrong” but “does it lead to Life or Death?”
    we can argue, fight and go to war, even kill over semantics of right/wrong or left/right, but the finality is life or death. that is the ONLY answer.


  7. “I swear by Apollo, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea, and I take to witness all the gods, all the goddesses,”

    We should also honor all these gods….you are all not upholding you end of the bargain….or is THAT part not relevant to your agenda?


    1. Hi,

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. I thought I had spelled that out in the post but can see I overlooked the religious element. Of course I don’t honor those gods. My point was simply that non-Jewish / non-Christian groups have historically seen that the unborn are human beings and that human life should not be destroyed. Of course that doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything they say.


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