The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Stephen Greene
sgreene [at] phrusa [dot] org

Benjamin Greenberg
bgreenberg [at] phrusa [dot] org

American Psychological Association Closes Loophole in Ethics Code, but More Code Reforms Needed


Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) applauds last week's action by the
American Psychological Association (APA) amending section 1.02 of its
2002 code of professional ethics. Since 2006, PHR and the Coalition for
Ethical Psychology have been campaigning for the APA to remove language
from its ethics code allowing a psychologist to violate other
provisions of the code if done to comply with "law, regulations, or
other governing legal authority." The new language restores the 1992
version of the code, which prohibits use of the standard "to justify or
defend violating human rights."

"This move by the APA is an
important step towards meaningful ethics reform, and PHR's constituents
and allies made it happen," states Frank Donaghue, Chief Executive
Officer of PHR. "However, the APA has more to do before its standards
of professional ethics are fully restored."

Section 1.02 was
inserted into the APA ethics code in August 2002, and was used by both
the APA and the Bush Administration to allow the participation of
psychologists in the "enhanced interrogation" program, in which
detainees were systematically abused and tortured under the supervision
of health professionals. PHR is calling for the APA to also reform
section 8.05 of the 2002 ethics code, which allows research on human
subjects without their consent if such research comports with law or

PHR was founded in 1986 on the idea that health professionals, with their specialized skills, ethical duties, and credible voices, are uniquely positioned to investigate the health consequences of human rights violations and work to stop them. PHR mobilizes health professionals to advance health, dignity, and justice and promotes the right to health for all.