The Corner

Bioethicist: Give Self-Cutters Sterile Razors

How off the rails of decency and true compassion is bioethics discourse becoming? Try this. Rather than try to prevent disturbed self-cutters from harming themselves instead give them sterile razors.

So says University of Manchester Law School professor of “Social Ethics and Policy,” Patrick J. Sullivan, because, well, harm minimilization and obeisance to the great modern god AUTONOMY.

From his article in the Journal of Medical Ethics:

It has been argued that healthcare professionals may sometimes have good reasons to allow harm, in fact they routinely do so; allowing harm is not necessarily contrary to the professionals’ duty of care, and in fact it may be required if the benefits are significant and likely to outweigh such harm.

As part of the therapeutic process, self-injury is accepted as necessary during a period when different coping strategies are developed. For many individuals this acceptance of risk may prove beneficial and provides the flexibility to work with the individual in a way that aims to contain rather than control risk based on an understanding of what works for the individual…

Harm minimisation provides a means of working with an individual in a way that recognises their autonomy and accepts that they have a different way of coping with distress. By trying to prevent their injury we harm them, we may fail to help them.

I conclude that healthcare professionals sometimes have an obligation to allow harm.

Hippocrates’ head just exploded.

In debates, I have argued that if we are going to help people commit suicide, why not give cigarettes to self-harmers so they can burn themselves.

We’re thee-e-e-e-r-r-r-re.

In the current age, reductio ad absurdum no longer works.


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