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4 8 - Physician facilitation of torture and coercive interrogation

from 6 - Anesthesiologists, the state, and society

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 March 2012

Gail A. Van Norman
Affiliation:
University of Washington
Stephen Jackson
Affiliation:
Good Samaritan Hospital, San Jose
Stanley H. Rosenbaum
Affiliation:
Yale University School of Medicine
Susan K. Palmer
Affiliation:
Oregon Anesthesiology Group
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Summary

Torture is the deliberate infliction of mental and physical suffering in order to overcome resistance or to sufficiently disorient prisoners so that the torturer can intimidate, extract information, and obtain confessions. This chapter considers the morally impermissible nature of torture (as well as of coercive interrogation), the ethical prohibition of physician participation in torture, and the dilemma of dual loyalties facing physicians requested or mandated to participate in such universally condemned activities. Treaties and statements prohibiting torture encourage states not to torture so that their enemies also will not torture. However, some commentators suggest that torture should be a last resort only after other less intrusive measures have failed. Military physicians are faced with balancing what is simplistically known as "dual loyalty" when deciding whether they have an obligation to participate in coercive interrogation as part of their military and societal obligation.
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Clinical Ethics in Anesthesiology
A Case-Based Textbook
, pp. 280 - 284
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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