Source: Steven Goldsmith, M.D.
On June 2, 1948, at Landsberg prison in Bavaria, seven Nazi doctors were hanged by the neck until dead. Seven others faced life imprisonment. The year before, the U.S. Military Tribunal in Nuremberg ordered these sentences for medical experiments without subjects’ consent, crimes against humanity, and mass murder. From the doctors’ trial arose the Nuremberg Code that, along with subsequent conventions and laws, governed the ethical practice of medicine in the United States. Until the past two years.
Since the onset of the COVID pandemic, many physicians have disgraced our profession. They have administered experimental vaccines of unprecedented toxicity for an illness with an overall survival rate of 99.74 percent, all without proper informed consent. They have withheld outpatient therapeutics of documented efficacy, leaving patients to sicken or die untreated. Undeterred by reports of catastrophic side effects such as teenage myocarditis, they have injected undisclosed ingredients with unknown long-term risks into children who harbor no serious risk from the illness. National medical associations and state medical boards continue, without due process or sound evidence, to punish physicians who espouse views that challenge our government’s claims. Why?
Three sets of quotes illustrate medicine’s devolution. The first of these is from the classic Hippocratic Oath, formulated in ancient Greece. “I swear by Apollo the physician . . . and call all the gods and goddesses to witness, that I will observe and keep this underwritten oath… With regard to healing the sick… I will take care that they suffer no hurt or damage… Nor shall any man’s entreaty prevail upon me to administer poison to anyone [italics mine]…”
Next, the revised Hippocratic Oath, composed in 1964 by Louis Lasagna. In this version, God and gods have disappeared except for “I must not play at God.” There is no longer a do-no-harm clause. It refers only to “avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism,” an intellectualized and vapid dilution of the original unequivocal commandment.
Finally, excerpts from the oath created by my medical school’s Class of 2025 during their White Coat Ceremony. “We also recognize the acts and systems of oppression effected in the name of medicine. We take this oath of service to begin building a future grounded in truth, restoration, and equity to fulfill medicine’s capacity to liberate… I acknowledge the past and present failures of medicine to abide by its obligation to do no harm and affirm the need to address systemic issues in the institutions I uphold… I promise to… engender an inclusive, equitable field of medicine…”
God has vanished. (One cannot even play God if there is no God to imagine.) Not that ethical healers must worship God. But if they don’t, they may worship other gods—security, status, money, power, reputation, or ideology. These baser idols will corrupt their devotees.
For example, in their oath, these White Coat celebrants never explicitly accepted responsibility for doing no harm themselves. Instead, they self-righteously decried others’ failures in that regard, befitting a political ideology that emphasizes systemic oppressor-victim grievances and a utopian equity of outcomes. Come to think of it, isn’t their White Coat Ceremony an act of racist privilege? The horror.
In recent decades other interests have distracted doctors from do-no-harm and patient-first precepts. A profession of solo practitioners and house calls no more, we owe obeisance increasingly to practice groups, insurers, Big Pharma, and electronic records. (Regarding that last, a 2016 study reported that MDs spent almost 40 percent of their patient care time interacting with computers. Six years later the percentage has surely increased.)
Since 2020 an even more powerful master has commandeered medicine’s values. The State requires that physicians comply with its unscientific dictates concerning treatments. Many do comply, and no wonder. The confusion about medicine’s purpose in recent decades has lubricated its slide into surrender. It has forsaken Hippocrates and signed onto a State-uber-alles mentality to ensure its security and public virtue. Do No Harm has been supplanted by Cover Your Ass.
By 1942 almost half of all German doctors had joined the Nazi party. By the early twentieth century, German medicine had become the cynosure of world-class medicine. But gradually the ideology of eugenics captured it. Mass enforced sterilization and abortions of the medically handicapped and the insane led to systematic euthanasia of these populations, and eventually to the Holocaust. Like their American counterparts who inject healthy children, many Nazi doctors believed that their practices served the best interests of society. As E. Ernst stated, “The participation in the ‘betrayal of Hippocrates’ had a broad basis within the German medical profession. Without the doctors’ active help, the Holocaust could not have happened [italics mine].”
Do I trivialize the Holocaust by facile comparisons of COVID medical hacks with Nazi doctors? I reject that charge. The Holocaust was unique in its magnitude. But the processes that facilitated Nazi atrocities reflect tendencies in all societies. Unless we want a repeat on an even greater scale we must recognize those tendencies in ourselves before it is too late.