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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 45, Issue 2, April 2019

Joseph Tarquin Foulkes Roberts
Pages 307-327

Body Modification Practices and the Medical Monopoly

The state currently grants the medical profession a monopolistic entitlement on the legal use of medical technology. As physicians are duty bound to not expose people to medically unnecessary harm, individuals who wish to engage in Body Modification Practices are effectively precluded from doing so as only physicians are legally entitled to use medical technology. In this article, I argue this is incompatible with respect for persons. Abolishing the medical monopoly allows us to meet the demands of respect for persons by granting access to technology, whilst still upholding physicians’ right to refuse to provide requested services and thereby determine the boundaries of their profession according to what they consider to be the internal morality of medicine.

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