Bioethics Discussion Blog: Bush et al: Listen to the Physicians!

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Bush et al: Listen to the Physicians!

The alleged behavior of physicians and staff at Guantanamo Bay doing forced feeding of inmates who desire to fast is now stirring unrest in the medical profession. From CNN today: LONDON, England (Reuters) -- More than 250 doctors from seven countries urged the U.S. government on Friday to abandon force-feeding and the use of restraints on hunger strikers at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp. ..."We urge the U.S. government to ensure that detainees are assessed by independent physicians and that techniques such as force-feeding and restraint chairs are abandoned," the doctors said in an open letter published in The Lancet medical journal.

Further, the American Medical Association in a open statement today wrote:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 10, 2006

Statement attributable to: Duane Cady, M.D. Chair, American Medical Association

“The AMA has shared with U.S. military officials its position on hunger strikes or feeding individuals against their will. Specifically, the AMA endorses the World Medical Association's Declaration of Tokyo, which states: ‘Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially. The decision as to the capacity of the prisoner to form such a judgment should be confirmed by at least one other independent physician.’


The American Medical Association is the largest professional organization of physicians in the United States, however, we are not a regulatory or licensing agency. Over the past year, the AMA has met with the Department of Defense to voice our concerns, provide them with relevant policies, and offer our expertise with the goal of ensuring that U.S. policies on detainee treatment comport with ethical standards of medicine. The AMA will continue to advocate for treatment of all detainees in U.S. custody to be in accordance with our Code of Medical Ethics and the Geneva Conventions. Our physician colleagues in the military, many of whom are placed in difficult, sometimes dangerous situations, deserve nothing less.”


Mr. Bush and the others in the administration, I would strongly suggest before the Guantanamo issue becomes even more painful to you and to the ethical appearance of America to the rest of the world, you should listen to your physicians. ..Maurice.

5 Comments:

At Friday, March 10, 2006 4:59:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

Dr. Bernstein ... if the prisoners starve themselves to the point of illness, or even death, then there would still be criticism.

Someone would have to discern if the prisoners had gotten ill or starved because of their own free will, or at the hands of the guards. That may be more difficult to prove than we can foresee - especially to other countries.

I don't believe this is one we can win ...

 
At Friday, March 10, 2006 5:45:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Moof, there is a simple process to provide confidence about what is going on both for those interested within our country as well as in other countries. Make room at Guantanamo for the International Red Cross to maintain a station there for on-the-spot observation and monitoring including the presence of independent physicians to evaluate the capacity of inmates to make their own life-death decisions and to examine for any signs of torture. How about, in addition, reducing the inmate population by discharging those where there is no evidence of participation in the "war"? ..Maurice.

 
At Friday, March 10, 2006 6:06:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

Since I'm not really conversant with what the issues are regarding the Red Cross and Guantanamo ... or the release of prisoners, for that matter ... I have to ask if you know why neither of these things are already happening?

These people are POW, and we're still receiving threats ... things aren't over by a mile.

 
At Saturday, March 11, 2006 3:19:00 AM, Blogger John J. Coupal said...

Sorry. I don't share your feelings on the subject. The United States is at war. Note that I'm not using scare quotes.

Your use of CNN as your source of the news also tells more about your political beliefs, Dr. Bernstein, than you'd care to reveal.

 
At Saturday, March 11, 2006 9:38:00 AM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Moof, I would assume that if an independent body such as the International Red Cross or independent physicians were allowed and made daily rounds there, we would have heard by now from these resources of any good behavior and statements rejecting what is in the news regarding the behavior those at Guantanamo who attend the inmates. I would suspect from the silence on this subject from the Red Cross, intensive monitoring by them is not going on.

John, I have felt in recent times, unlike its use in the past, the use of the word war as used by our government in the "war on drugs" and "war on crime" and "war on terrorism" as examples, makes the use of the word unclear to me as to what activities or behavior of the parties constitute war.

With regard to CNN,the news actually came from Reuters (any difference?) ..Maurice.

 

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