New York Must Act Now to Help Health Professionals Ethically Treat Prisoners and Prevent Torture
The New York Torture Prevention Legislation, A-4489 sponsored by Assemblymember Richard Gottfried and S-0105 sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman, is legislation with bi-partisan support that aims to hold healthcare professionals to one of the most basic principles of medical ethics: do no harm. It represents the first legislation in the country to explicitly prohibit health professionals licensed in the state from assisting in torture, interrogations, and prisoner abuse, while providing them with strong legal protection to resist any future orders or coercion to participate in such acts.
This ground-breaking legislation provides a mechanism for accountability and for preventing torture and mistreatment. The legislation protects health professionals placed in potentially coercive situations, such as prisons or the military, with grounds for refusing to participate in torture/mistreatment of detainees – i.e. “I cannot do this-I could lose my license.”
Not only does this legislation protect our health professionals in coercive situations, adopting this standard is also in the best interest of the state and the nation. When the US tortures, we feed our enemies propaganda- unnecessarily putting our troops in harm's way.