On January 18, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the formation of a new “Division of Conscience and Religious Freedom within the HHS Office for Civil Rights. As the chief clinical officer at Howard Brown Health, the largest LGBTQ health care organization in the Midwest, I am alarmed by this assault on the integrity of the medical profession and its potentially dangerous impact on patient care.
The medical oath is one of the oldest binding covenants. It remains a rite of passage for medical graduates; beyond the symbolic value, it articulates the principles that inspire us to become health care providers as well as the responsibilities that come with the role. The evolution of the medical oath tells a story of how medical care can cause harm when it is informed by racial, ethnic, and religious biases.