Monash Bioethics Review 34 (3-4):158-188 (2017)

In 2015, the Israeli Knesset passed the force-feeding act that permits the director of the Israeli prison authority to appeal to the district court with a request to force-feed a prisoner against his expressed will. A recent position paper by top Israeli clinicians and bioethicists, published in Hebrew, advocates for force-feeding by medical professionals and presents several arguments that this would be appropriate. Here, we first posit three interrelated questions: 1. Do prisoners have a right to hunger-strike? 2. Should governing institutions force-feed prisoners and/or is it ethical to force-feed prisoners? 3. Should healthcare professionals force-feed prisoners? We then focus on the first and third questions. We first briefly provide several arguments to support the right of prisoners to refuse treatment. Next, we critically review the arguments presented in the Israeli position paper, demonstrating that they are all misguided at best. Lastly, we briefly present arguments against force-feeding by medical professionals. We conclude that healthcare providers should not participate in the force-feeding of prisoners.
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DOI 10.1007/s40592-017-0071-9
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