The (Fianna Fail) Hippocratic Oath

Here’s how Donegal Fianna Fail TD Dr. Jim McDaid explained why he could not support the Government’s decision to postpone a cervical cancer vaccination programme for young women.

“We will pass a death sentence on a certain percentage of the 12-year-old girls whose parents cannot afford the cost of it.”Is there anyone in this House who would not give the vaccine to their daughters today?”

“Fifty years from now, it will not be important what my bank account was, what type or car I drove or what size of house I lived in.”It does matter to me that during my stay in this House I may have been, just may have been, important in the life of a child.

“Accordingly, I cannot vote for the Government’s motion this evening,”

“I fully realise the implications of this but I trust that my colleagues understand that, while I will abstain, I will not vote per se against them.

I cannot vote against an oath I took 34 years ago.”

The oath Dr. McDaid speaks of is, of course, the Hippocratic Oath. The following are two promises made in the oath.

“To practice and prescribe to the best of my ability for the good of my patients, and to try to avoid harming them.” and “Never to do deliberate harm to anyone for anyone else’s interest.

Dr. McDaid seems to be taking a distinctly Fianna Fail attitude to the oath.

He knew that no matter how he voted the Government would prevail. So if he was genuinely determined ‘never to do deliberate harm to anyone for anyone else’s interest’ he should have voted against the motion instead of hedging his bets by abstaining.

As it is he has put himself in the worst of positions. His colleagues will not be impressed by his plea that he is ‘not voting per se against the motion and others will judge that as doctor who took the Hippocratic Oath he felt it was enough to merely abstain on a matter that was important to the life of a child.

He won’t, however, have to worry about the judgement of a ‘certain percentage of 12 year old girls’.

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