The lobby group Physicians for Human Rights has criticised the participation of American doctors in force-feeding hunger strikers in Guantanamo Bay. The New York Times claims that as many as 200 prisoners, more than one-third of the detainees, have refused food. Military officials say that 105 are participating in the strike. Whatever the number, 20 men are in poor health and are being fed through nasal tubes and sometimes given intravenous fluids.
PHR says that force-feeding is “in direct violation of international codes of medical ethics”. It contends that the wishes of a mentally competent patient who has made a free and autonomous decision must be respected, even if his life is at risk. “Though physicians in these situations have a duty to respect the sanctity of life, and act in the best interests of their patients, they have a greater duty to respect the autonomy of their patients who freely choose to refuse food and/or fluids and understand the consequences of their actions,” it says.
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