"Medical Paternalism"

         . . . The teachings of Christian Science with respect to the conscientious, skillful medical practitioner and surgeon may be seen from the following excerpts from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," wherein Mrs. Eddy states (p. 151), "Great respect is due the motives and philanthropy of the higher class of physicians;" also (p. 164), "It is just to say that generally the cultured class of medical practitioners are grand men and women, therefore they are more scientific than are false claimants to Christian Science." It is to be observed, then, that any unkind attitude on the part of the students of Christian Science towards the medical profession is a fault on their part, and not a fault of the teaching of Christian Science; and it should be understood that it is not "medicine" that is opposed, but the growth and development of what has come to be termed "state" or compulsory medicine. However, some of the most unrelenting opposition to the political activities of "organized medicine" comes from responsible and able journals and members of the regular medical profession itself, as will be seen from the following references.

         In your leading editorial of the October issue, you mention the Illinois Medical Association. The official journal of that association is one of the most aggressive and consistent foes of the spread of what is termed "medical paternalism" that we know of. At the 1922 convention of the American Medical Association, held in St. Louis, a resolution was adopted declaring "opposition to all forms of 'state medicine,' because of the ultimate harm that would come thereby to the public weal through such form of medical practice;" and Dr. Hubert Work stated that, "promiscuous medical treatment is not a state function, and such treatment should not be tolerated by the public or by physicians."

         From the Journal of the American Medical Association we glean such comments as: "Another error into which we have fallen as a profession is the tendency to regard the medical profession as a divinely authorized class, whose sacred and distinctive function is the protection of the people either with or without their consent." Also: "The responsibility of protecting the public from disease and of securing better health conditions belongs to the people. It is not a function of the medical profession to maintain lobbies or to endeavor to secure public health measures by political methods."

         The late Prof. William James, M. D., of Harvard, voluntarily appeared before the Massachusetts Legislature and opposed a measure introduced for the purpose of restricting medical practice in that state, saying that the state had no right to interfere in medical matters, nor should it "dare to take sides in medical controversies."

         In the May 15, 1924, issue of the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal, we find the following: "State medicine will spell the doom of inspiration in medical work and of unlimited medical progress. In a land already burdened by the limitations set by a bureaucratic government, where one out of every forty has already been given the task of policing the other thirty-nine, let us at least be spared state medicine."

         The above quotation is a startling reecho of a pronouncement of Dr. Benjamin Rush, famous Philadelphia medical teacher-pracititioner, who wrote, in 1776, the following: "The Constitution of this Republic should make provision for medical freedom as well as for religious freedom. To restrict the art of healing to one class of men and deny equal privileges to others will constitute the Bastille of medical science. All such laws are un-American and despotic. They are fragments of monarchy, and have no place in a republic." Christian Scientists have no quarrel with the medical profession, and entertain most cordial feelings towards it, and towards its endeavors to alleviate the manifold woes of mankind; and they take no issue with its programs to raise the standards of its own practice, but they feel they have ample warrant, both in morals and in law, to ask that their practice be not interfered with by restrictive legislation, feeling that state medicine is no less repugnant to the higher human ideal than is state religion. . . .


Excerpt from "Selected Articles"
Ralph W. Still, Committee on Publication for the State of Texas, in the
Texas State Journal of Medicine, Fort Worth
Christian Science Sentinel, June 20, 1925

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