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Disagreements over Do No Harm

Posted on Tue May 26th, 2020 @ 3:08am by Captain Kelly O'Connor & Lieutenant Commander Magnus Grey

Mission: Mission 7 - Aenerth for an Earth
Location: University Campus
Timeline: 2296/02/21 - 1230

“In Federation medical schools,” he explained as they left the building, “people aren’t permitted to die if someone makes a mistake. Oh, I’m sure it happens sometimes, but a teacher will always try to intervene and show the student what to do, or even takes over completely. Such incidents will often make the weaker students quit their programs, but the truly competent ones learn from their mistakes and don’t make them in the future.”

"You say that you are sure it happens sometimes and yet, you speak so proudly on behalf of your program. How could you be certain that what you are saying is accurate?" he asked. "Here on Aenerth, we are a merit based society. I'm certain that your Captain is learning about that. Those who are truly worthy, rise. Those who are not, well, they have their roles, as well."

"We, too, are merit based," Magnus replied. "At one time many societies of Earth were heavily class based. People could not hope to achieve if they began their lives in bad conditions. Those classes were dismantled, in some cases forcefully. The Federation now ensures everyone has the chance to climb to success if they work for it. No one begins that climb above or below anyone else."

"In that, we are alike. Anyone that desires to achieve, can."

"But I wonder about the person on the operating table," Magnus said as they walked. "It was possible, likely even, that the patient could have died purely to test whether a student doctor was competent. That person may have been denied the chance to achieve, all for a teaching moment."

"The patient was well aware of the risk. He could not afford the surgery. By volunteering, all of his costs were covered. Of course, the risk of having a student do the procedure is well known. It could be death for both of them if things go wrong. If they do not, they both get something they covet."

“Wait, why would the student be at risk of death?”

"Have you already forgotten?" Sanduval asked concerned. "Have you suffered some sort of amnesia? Before you permitted your doctor to intercede, I told you that both would die if the surgery was unsuccessful. Doctors take an oath to do no harm. If they do harm, unintentional, or otherwise, then they must die. It is a sacred oath to heal."

“Not amnesia, just so shocked that I missed that nuance,” Magnus replied. “Conversely, extremely competent doctors, extremely competent people of all professions make mistakes sometimes. A doctor who saves five thousand lives but because of a mistake anyone could make and nobody caught one of them dies? It’s a tragedy but it’s life.” He paused a moment. “And what about the professor down there? Where was his oath to do no harm when a patient lay dying before him and he chose not to act?”

"He was not doing harm," Sanduval replied simply. "He had nothing to do with the surgery. He was an observer. Of course, had he assisted, then his life might be at risk, as well."

Magnus sighed. "Our systems are extremely different, Mr. Sanduval. But let's move on and discuss some political science matters, where I am a bit more qualified. High level, tell me a bit about the planetary government, please."

"What would you like to know? We're a representative democracy. The highest three voted individuals are given the most duties. You met the three of us at our meal. Is that similar to your government?"

"Well first," Magnus began, "how are elections handled? Does everyone have the right to vote, or is that a right that's earned or somehow bestowed?"

"Elections are handled democratically. Everyone has the right to vote. People elect electorates who then in turn elect the officials. It is quite efficient."

“It sounds efficient. Any conditions to vote, like age or a certain kind of experience that everyone has the right to access? In the Federation, there is a minimum voting age of eighteen years, prorated if your species has shorter lifespans or matures much more quickly.”

"Anyone above the age of 21 can vote. Science has proven that the mind is mostly formed at that age, so there is little risk of acting irrationally, so the theory goes."

Magnus nodded. He didn't understand much of how this planet worked, but he and Sanduval continued discussing things that they generally could agree on.


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