May 19, 2024

We should react to atrocities in Gaza, says bioethicists 

The war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is creating tensions within the bioethics community. In an article in the Canadian blog Impact Ethics, three bioethicists have called for their profession to speak out against the violence and suffering. 

The point out that some leading medical and bioethics associations have refused to comment, even though they had taken a stand on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

We, as bioethicists, reject a stance of silence because we believe in a disciplinary responsibility to demonstratemoral courage and promote justice.

The American Public Health Association is our only major professional organization from the United States to have called for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, drawing on its 2009 policy on The Role of Public HealthPractitioners, Academics, and Advocates in Relation to Armed Conflict and War. 

In sharp contrast, house delegates of the American Medical Association (AMA) voted down a November resolution to support a ceasefire in Gaza, citing that the matter did not meet its criteria of advocacy, urgency or ethical consideration. The American Society for Bioethics and Humanities has been silent, despite its strong policyon academic freedom … 

They conclude:

How can we call ourselves ethicists and silently bear witness to thousands of civilian deaths, escalating sanctions, deprivation of basic life necessities, war crimes, kidnapping of hostages, sexual assaults and inhumanity? What are we teaching our students by being unwilling to acknowledge our biases and speak up?