Updated: Jan 11, 2021
President Trump Is Guilty Of Negligent Manslaughter
President Trump, guilty of negligent manslaughter, on a rant
In the era of Covid-19, physicians confront the daunting challenge of saving patients who are on the brink of death. Entrusted with the lives of others, these doctors carry a heavy burden and a sacred responsibility embedded in the Hippocratic oath.
Hippocrates, ancient Greek physician and “Father of Medicine” (Shutterstock)
The sixth paragraph of the modern version of the Oath states: “. . . Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty.” Contrary to conventional belief, nowhere does the Oath state, “First, do no harm.” Nevertheless, it makes a high commitment to caring, which is why we feel outrage over doctors who appear indifferent or even callous about the suffering of their patients.
As an example, let’s imagine a physician, Dr. X, caring for Covid-19 patients in an at-capacity ICU. A nurse alerts him that several patients are in impending respiratory failure, urgently needing intubation as their oxygen levels plummet. “I don’t agree with you,” Doctor X responds. “The patients don’t need intubation. They’re doing just fine and will soon recover on their own. If you would just stop using the oxygen meters, none of these patients would have low oxygen.” And he turns away and walks out of the unit.
Covid-19 patient on a ventilator in ICU (Photo: Shutterstock / Photocarioca)
In this scenario, Doctor X abandons his patients and fails to fulfill his sacred duty. At a minimum, he should lose his license to practice medicine, but if patients die as a result of his actions or lack thereof, he could be guilty of manslaughter by recklessness or gross negligence. Recklessness is knowingly exposing another to the risk of injury and being willing to run that risk, but in criminal negligence, there is a failure to foresee danger and thereby prevent it from occurring. It becomes “gross” when the failure entails a “wanton disregard for human life.”
President Trump did not take the Hippocratic Oath, but he did take an oath that is every bit as profound—perhaps even more so. In his inaugural address of Friday, January 20, 2017, Trump proclaimed, “. . .The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans . . . We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done . . . The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer. . . This American carnage stops right here and stops right now . . . I will fight for you with every breath in my body; and I will never, ever let you down.” [My emphasis added.]
The last line is a promise not only to serve the American people, but to uncompromisingly uphold them. But what has Trump done? He has minimized the Covid-19 pandemic from the very beginning, one of his most infamous claims being that of February 26, 2020: “You have fifteen people, and the fifteen within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” Stunningly, seven months later as the pandemic spins wildly out of control in the US and has killed nearly 19 times as many Americans as have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he continues to say, “I think at some point that’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.”
Like Doctor X, who dismissed the alerts of the alarmed ICU nurse and told her, “The patients don’t need intubation. They are doing just fine and will soon recover on their own,” Trump has not only ignored the warnings of epidemiologists, he has actively disagreed with expert advisors like the renowned Dr. Anthony Fauci. Trump’s asinine assertion that, “If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases,” is like Doctor X suggesting that all oxygen monitors be switched off to make the problem of patient hypoxia go away. Just as the doctor walked out on his unit, staff, and patients, so has President Trump abdicated all efforts to control the pandemic, which has had predictably deadly consequences, and torn people from their loved ones. Like the doctor, Trump has displayed appalling recklessness, gross negligence, and willful blindness. He has failed his oath, let the American people down, and in an open display of wanton disregard for human life, allowed thousands to die.