In the episode 2x19 Lifesigns a Vidiian female has been rescued. She is unconscious, but The Doctor makes her "alive" through creating a holo body from her DNA and her remaining memories.

As the story continues, The Doctor begins to fall in love with her. As she claims that it may get boring in the sickbay (holos can't move on the whole ship, as we know), Shmullus tells her that she, also a doctor, is allowed to search the whole medicinal database of the Voyager.

That's a nice offer! But doesn't this violate the Prime Directive or other Federation laws?

Why he may do it:

  1. He's in love and not capable of making reasonable decisions. That's what he later also claims, that it's getting hard for him to not think of her while doing his work.
  2. Medicine doesn't qualify as "technology." It sounds a bit weird to me, but maybe medicinal inventions are not regarded as technology by the Prime Directive?
  3. He is neither allowed, nor would he do it. It's just for the plot and a nice gesture.

Why he shouldn't do it:

  1. Refering to pro 1: He may have fallen in love, but to that time it's still in progress and he can still do other things quite well. It doesn't seem like love has stricken him that hard.
  2. As a Federation officer and a sophisticated holo program, he should know ALL Federation protocols and laws. So he should have known that it's not the best thing to offer.
  3. Voyager doesn't have a good relationship with the Vidiians, nor is it a trade. In the past they had confrontations, like capturing B'Elanna Torres. That's no act of friendship.

So why does he give a foreigner access to the whole medicinal database, if he's still rational?

enter image description here Shmullus and his chicadillic girlfriend on Mars.

  • This is only a general memory because I haven't watched these episodes recently, but my recollection is that the Vidiians were actually more advanced than Starfleet in terms of medical technology as they were fighting the Phage. Perhaps it was partially a humanitarian effort to help fight the Phage that disclosed no new technology that the Vidiians didn't have. Alternatively, maybe he didn't expect her to return to her society, given that she was a hologram.
    – Paul
    Jan 31, 2014 at 15:25
  • Her memory remained in the "old" body, as seen in the end of the episode, where they two have known each other. So that's no clue. :/ Yes, Vidiians are a little bit more sophisticated in medicine, that's true. But is this really a reason to share the whole medicinal database without touching the Prime Directive?
    – Trollwut
    Jan 31, 2014 at 15:30
  • Generally, the Prime Directive applies the most to non-warp species. Trade of knowledge can and does happen among the federation and other roughly-similarly advanced species. Between these two stages of development, things are handled on a case-by-case basis. Medical knowledge, especially with a species as advanced as the Vidiians would not be an issue. However, replicator or weapons technology almost always are kept secret from anyone who doesn't already have that technology.
    – DampeS8N
    Jan 31, 2014 at 17:42
  • What is "chicadillic?"
    – Matt
    Jan 31, 2014 at 20:47
  • Matt: Apparently "chikadelic", Austin Powers, because of that fable of a chevrolet. :) @DampeS8N: Well yes, but they are not friendly to the Vidiians AFAIK (pls correct me if I'm wrong), so this would be just aiding your enemy. Mh but ok, then I think about that Enterprise even rescued crewmen from a hostile Romulan ship... have to think about it. :D
    – Trollwut
    Jan 31, 2014 at 21:34

1 Answer 1


I think this question boils down to a fundamental misunderstanding of the principle of the Prime Directive. While the general idea is that Federation ships shouldn't be conducting first contact with uncontacted alien species, the rule of thumb has always been that they are permitted to engage in the sharing of cultural, scientific and humanitarian information (including medical information + supplies) with warp-capable species like the Vidiians when requested to do so.

Picard explictly states that a specific request for help overrides the Prime Directive in the TNG episode "Pen Pals"

PICARD: Data, I want you to sever the contact with Drema Four. (Data goes to a wall panel and taps in commands)

COMPUTER: Isolating frequency.

SARJENKA [OC]: Data. Data, where are you? Why won't you answer? Are you angry me? Please, please, I'm so afraid. Data, Data, where are you?

PICARD: Wait. Oh, Data. Your whisper from the dark has now become a plea. We cannot turn our backs.

In this particular case, the Vidiians are a highly advanced species with excellent medical technology. They're suffering a plague and have asked for assistance. It would be both impolite (and potentially disastrous from a diplomatic perspective) to not render at least the minimum of assistance by opening up the public medical database.

I'm assuming that the more esoteric data regarding bio-technology and bioweapons delivery systems etc will still be kept behind more strict protection.

  • Sure that Vidiians already have warp technology? Because I remember that they also prohibit technology trade with species that doesn't, because this would have a too much impact on their cultural development. Your answer isn't false! I will re-read it and wait a little bit until I mark it. :)
    – Trollwut
    Jan 31, 2014 at 19:14

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