US Military Doctors Criticized Over Force-Feeding

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Associated Press

US Military Doctors Criticized Over Force-Feeding

AP staffwriters

CHICAGO- Military doctors violate medical ethics when they approve the force-feeding of hunger strikers at the U.S. prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, according to a commentary in a medical journal.

The doctors should attempt to prevent force-feeding by refusing to participate, the three authors write in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.0801 04

"In medicine, you can't force treatment on a person who doesn't give their voluntary informed consent," said Dr. Sondra Crosby of Boston University, one of the authors. "A military physician needs to be a physician first and a military officer second, in my opinion.''

As of yesterday, 20 of 23 fasting detainees at Guantanamo were being fed liquid meals through flexible tubes inserted through their noses and throats, said Guantanamo spokesperson navy Cmdr. Rick Haupt. The strikers are protesting conditions at the camp and their confinement.

A few physicians have declined to participate in force-feeding, although the specific number has not been tracked, Haupt said.

Last year, the military started strapping detainees in restraint chairs during tube feedings to prevent the prisoners from resisting or making themselves vomit.

About 360 men, including Canadian Omar Khadr, are still held at Guantanamo on suspicion of links to Al Qaeda or the Taliban.

© 2007 The Associated Press.

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