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A call to end the force-feeding of Guantánamo prisoners

Over the weekend, the Daily Beast published a piece from Stanford medical student Nuriel Moghavem and Marty Makary, MD, MPH, a Johns Hopkins University surgeon, on the practice of military physicians force-feeding Guantánamo Bay prisoners. Many Americans know little (or have thought little) about the practice, but it is something that, the authors write, raises serious issues for the medical community:

By using medical interventions to gag patients against their will, military doctors have strayed from their admirable role, historically marked with a red cross on their helmet, a sign even an enemy respected in the battlefield. Worse, this current precedent by military doctors is a terrible example to our nation’s 80,000 medical students. Violations of basic medical ethics tarnish a trust in physicians that could have future implications in U.S. medicine and international relations.

Earlier today I asked Moghavem, who is also a fellow with the Stanford Center for Ethics in Society, how he came to write about what's happening at Guantánamo. He told me it ties into his long-standing interest in medical ethics and international affairs. "This is, to me, an important issue that requires a great deal of public outrage to create real change in American policy," he said. "That outrage will come naturally when people know the facts, and I felt it was important to share those facts with the public."

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