Indonesian Doctors Association refuses participation in chemical castration law

Sean Murphy*

Dr. Prijo Sidipratomo told BBC news that Indonesian doctors cannot be involved with chemical castration of convicted sex offenders “because we have to uphold medical ethics,” and must not “do anything harmful to any human being.”

His comments follow the passage of a new law in Indonesia authorizing chemical castration for paedophiles.

Interviewed by the BBC, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said,  “That’s fine if the doctors don’t want to do it.  We can use other doctors.  We could use military doctors. . . . There are lots of people who want to do it.  That’s not a problem. . .  It’s up to the doctors in Indonesia.  But if the court hands out that punishment, we will carry it out.  Military doctors or government doctors can do it.”

The BBC report does not indicate whether or not the Indonesian medical profession accepts the distinction apparently made by the President between the ethical responsibilities of physicians employed by the state and those in private practice.  It appears that the President believes that the first allegiance of physicians who are employed by the state is to the law and state policy rather than to medical ethics or conscientious convictions.  This is not dissimilar to arguments being made in Canada to the effect that physicians, as agents of the state health care system, must at least collaborate in killing patients or helping them commit suicide; some academics claim that they must actually do the killing themselves if they wish to continue in practice.

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