Activism masquerading as medicine

As most of you have no doubt figured out by now, I tend towards the right of center, fluctuating between conservatism on economics, crime, and foreign policy and more on the libertarian side of social issues.  (Want an abortion, marry your same-sex partner, or smoke pot?  I don’t care.  Just don’t ask me to subsidize it.)

I don’t care what your politics are, personally.  I have friends who make Pat Robertson seem like an atheist and friends who make Barack Obama look like the founding member of the Tea Party.

What I do care about is when you use a position of authority to claim to be an unbiased authority — or when you use your position as my physician to promote a political or social agenda — regardless of the cause.

As of late, I’ve seen physicians advocate for gun control, against extraordinary rendition of terrorism suspects, for air pollution controls (in the name of prevention of children’s asthma, no less!) and against fast food.

What I’m unclear about is where the practice of medicine ends and where the political advocacy begins.  From the looks of it, many physicians are too.  Years ago, public health meant epidemiology and disease prevention.  Now, the modern liberal nanny state has morphed public health into a form of political activism.   I’ve got no problem with advocating for your agenda, just don’t say that your position is a matter of medicine.  Because if doctors can make law by virtue of their medical education, it’s a short jump before lawyers are able to make medical policy by virtue of their legal education. And we all know how well that works….


  1. Mike Smertka says:

    My friend, there were days when a physician was an unbiased advocate for their patients. There are hours of medical ethics classes in medical school on this subject. There are oaths and traditions dating back centuries. Even Hippocrates had political ideology. He was anti-abortion and pro-slavery. Read the original oath. But in my lifetime, a physician has become not a lifelong dedication, social position, or unbiased healer. It has become a job. Like any other job. The people who do that job expect to have the same rights and (lack of)responsibilities as any other job. Passionate and smart people using what is available to them to get their way. That is not unique to physicians. The current leader of Al-Qaeda is a physician. You are lamenting the loss of an antiquated ideal. There are still a few dinosaurs like me around, but we are dying out and not coming back. It is reality. I don’t like it, but I cannot stop evolution. It is foolish to even try.