Bioethics News

Doctors risk jail to uphold professional ethics

Brisbane (Australia) doctors are refusing to release the baby of an asylum seeker couple from hospital until a “suitable home environment” has been found for her.

The baby, a one-year-old girl named Asha, suffered mild burns while being detained on an off-shore processing centre in Nauru. Doctors have treated her, but say it would be “unethical” to release her until an alternative to detention is found.

Speaking on behalf of the clinicians, Doctors for Refugees spokesman Richard Kidd said the doctors were concerned about the child’s wellbeing. “There’s overwhelming evidence that babies and children being put into detention does them great harm,” he said. “So for doctors and nurses we just can’t send children from hospital into a place where we know they’re going to be harmed.”

It is unclear if and when the Australian government will forcibly remove the girl from the hospital. In response to a High Court proceeding filed by the Australian Human Rights Law Centre, the government has agreed to give lawyers and family 72-hours notice before deporting the girl. 

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