Medical professionals who serve in prisons are often confronted with hunger-striking inmates. Force-feeding without consent is a flagrant violation of a patient’s medical autonomy. When conducted by a physician against the patient’s will, it not only violates medical ethics, it is medical complicity in torture, according to the World Medical Association.
PHR has long demanded an end to force-feeding of detainees at Guantánamo Bay detention center. When a Navy nurse took the unprecedented stand of refusing to force-feed a detainee on the grounds that it violated his professional ethics, we launched a high-profile campaign in his defense. We rallied health professionals, medical associations, and others, and successfully pushed back against military efforts to punish the nurse.
We have also taken a firm stand against the Israeli government’s force-feeding of Palestinian hunger-strikers and we urge Israeli doctors to refuse to violate their ethical and professional standards by agreeing to force-feed prisoners.
Prison health professionals also encounter dual loyalty in the area of solitary confinement, where they can be face pressures to clear a prisoner for extended isolation. In reports in 2012 and 2013, we showed the severe psychological and physical consequences of solitary confinement and called for it to be prohibited in immigration and national security settings.
PHR continues to advocate on behalf of health professionals everywhere when they are attacked for refusing to compromise the highest ethical standards of their professions.