The medical community of Portugal has declared war on the bill drafted by the Health Ministry, which would prohibit doctors and other health care personnel from issuing public statements, either personally or by means of third parties, which “could call into question the image” of the National Health Service or its dependencies. The bill, parading as a new “Health Care Code of Ethics,” specifies that this prohibition includes use of social media.
The government was given the go-ahead for this law by the same National Life Sciences Ethics Council (CNECV) which ruled two years ago, in strict adherence to Adolf Hitler’s principle of “lives not worthy of being lived,” that it was “ethical” for the government to deny overly-expensive medical care to certain categories of people, in order to meet international financial commitments.
This “gag law” comes as the government is taking down the national health service, closing maternity wards, specialized services, and hospitals; restricting availability of drugs for cancer, hepatitis, and other “expensive” conditions; and restricting budgets overall, such that everything from emergency services, to salaries, and even subscriptions for professional medical and scientific journals, are being cut.
The National College of Physicians (OM) denounced the bill as “unacceptable,” charging that “the Health Ministry does not know what ethics is… it does not know what democracy is; it does not know what a public mission is; it does not know what it is to defend the interests of patients.”
The entire leadership of the OM’s Northern region stated on May 19 that should the bill become law, the Hippocratic Oath and the medical profession’s own code of ethics require that any physician speak out against anything which puts his or her patients at risk, whatever the cost. Their statement called on every Portuguese person to mobilize to defeat it. “It was because of the silence and obedience of many, sometimes out of fear, other times by imposition, that so many atrocities were committed throughout history…. It is ever more required that there be true unity of all in defense of the greatest social achievements of our democracy, freedom of speech and access to high-quality universal public heath care.”
Actions under discussion range from the physician associations holding press conferences to release the denunciations they are receiving from all sectors on the deficiencies of the system, to cutting off all cooperation with the Health Ministry, and possibly a doctors’ strike.