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May 14, 2017

Speaker: Doctors facing pressure to abandon their moral principles

Dr. Christina Francis speaks at the May 1 banquet in Kokomo.

Dr. Christina Francis speaks at the May 1 banquet in Kokomo.

By Caroline B. Mooney

KOKOMO — Today’s physicians and health-care providers face a dilemma — there is pressure to cave in to what is popular or politic as opposed to doing what they know to be right, both for their own conscience and their patient’s well-being, said Dr. Christina Francis.

She spoke at the Indiana Right to Life 2017 Annual “Legacy of Life” Banquet on May 1, at Rozzi’s Catering Continental Ball Room.

Indiana Right to Life’s mission is to protect the right to life — especially of unborn children — through education, compassionate advocacy, and the promotion of abortion alternatives.

Father Matthew Arbuckle, pastor of St. Joan of Arc Parish, Kokomo, opened the evening by asking for God’s blessing on the efforts of those who work to protect life.

“May we always serve you in love to both the born and unborn, working tirelessly to defend the sanctity of life,” he said. “Have mercy on us, O Lord, for the countless times humanity has offended you in violating the goodness of life. We ask for your forgiveness and for a spirit of repentance for those who might profit from the culture of death.”

Francis said that “the desire to help people, especially during the hardest periods of their lives, was what drew me to the vocation of medicine.”

She is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and works in Fort Wayne. She attended medical school at Indiana University and completed her OB/GYN residency at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis in 2009. She is president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a board member of Indiana Right to Life.

Also a speaker for Life Training Institute, Francis offers her medical expertise, knowledge of bioethics, and pro-life reasoning in the United States and around the globe. Her passion for human rights has led her to work with orphans in Romania and Burma, discuss life issues with university students in Israel, and work at a mission hospital in rural Kenya.

“One of the most surreal moments of my academic career was my white coat ceremony marking the beginning of my medical training,” Francis said. “The most impactful part of the ceremony was reciting the Hippocratic Oath, considered to be the original codification of the ethics of practicing the art of medicine.

“For the first time in history, it set forth an ethical standard that transcended societal law and specified a professional dedication to the sanctity of life and to the trust-faith relationship between doctors and their patients,” she said.

Francis didn’t know then that the oath had been changed over time.

“It was instead a watered-down and more politically correct version that had virtually erased the responsibility of the physician to protect all human life,” she said. “Not only that, but this newer version even included a reference to physician-assisted death and the care we must take when making that decision.”

Hippocrates is believed to be the first to have thought that diseases were caused naturally, not by superstition and not by gods. Hippocratic medicine was known for its strict professionalism, discipline and rigorous practice. Those standards set apart physicians who followed Hippocrates from other physicians of that time.

“Have you ever thought it was your duty to protect your physician from anything?” Francis said. “Physicians are partially to blame for allowing their moral standards to be compromised and forced out nearly completely, claiming it is in their patients’ best interests to do so. But the public is also partially to blame for demanding that those morals be set aside in matters where it serves their interests.”

Six basic tenets of the oath still hold true today and set apart the Hippocratic physicians, she said: to act only for the benefit of the patient; to never assist in suicide or practice euthanasia, nor suggest it; to never perform an abortion; to refer to physicians of sufficient expertise; to never have sexual relations with patients; and to maintain patient confidentiality.

“Health-care providers are being asked to set aside the first three of these on an increasingly frequent basis,” Francis said. “When this happens, our patients will never be able to trust that we will always act on their behalf. This can only be assured when medicine is separated from the intentional killing of human beings.

“As a medical profession and as a society, we have allowed ourselves to believe the dangerous lie that not all human beings are persons and therefore don’t all have the same value or the same inherent right to life,” she said. “This lie had led to so many tragedies throughout history: slavery, the Holocaust, euthanasia, extermination of people with disabilities, human trafficking — just to name a few.”

The greatest tragedy, however, she said, has been the death of more than 50 million babies in the last 44 years, since the Supreme Court ruling in Roe vs. Wade.

Francis said she has been told by her professional organization that she must either perform abortions or refer for them, in order to be board certified.

“And if I don’t, I could face reprimand for ethical violations,” she said. “If I’m not board certified, I can’t practice in a hospital setting. If those of us who desire to practice Hippocratic medicine can no longer be licensed or find a place to practice, then patients won’t be able to receive medical care in an environment knowing their provider is committed to providing sanctity of life rather than thinking about if death will be more useful to the health care system of society at large.

“The pressure on physicians to abandon their moral principles is something that concerns us all, but many of us are not aware that it is occurring,” Francis said. “You can discuss this in your circles of influence, support Indiana Right to Life and be informed about legislation.”

She also suggested taking copies of the original Hippocratic Oath to physicians to ask if they adhere to the principles. 

The banquet was sponsored by Eye Physicians, Inc., State Sen. Jim Buck, James Butcher and State Rep. Mike Karickhoff. Paul Wyman served as emcee for the evening.
 

For more information on how to help Indiana Right to Life, visit the Web site: https://www.irtl.org.

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