(Feb 2006) The Priority of Professional Ethics Over Personal Morality

by Rosamond Rhodes

Published 02 February 2006
BMJ 2006;332:294
doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.332.7536.294

(Response to Julian Savulescu’s article “Conscientious objection in medicine”, 2006)

To understand the social role of medicine and its ethics, it is important to recognize that the medical profession is a social artifact created by giving control over a set of knowledge, skills, powers and privileges exclusively to a select few who are entrusted to provide their services in response to the community’s needs and to use their distinctive tools for the good of patients and society. Although a good deal of medicine involves preventing or healing disease and or restoring function, defining medicine narrowly in those terms leaves out numerous medical roles. For example, we call upon medicine for the provision of
prenatal care and birth control, even when no one is ill. We call upon medicine to ameliorate a dying patient’s suffering, even when the disease cannot be healed nor function restored.

Read full response: the BMJ