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By Ian Miller

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It is the 1st monograph-length research of the force-feeding of starvation strikers in English, Irish and northern Irish prisons. It examines moral debates that arose in the course of the 20th century whilst governments accepted the force-feeding of imprisoned suffragettes, Irish republicans and convict prisoners. It additionally explores the fraught function of felony medical professionals referred to as upon to accomplish the strategy. because the domestic workplace first approved force-feeding in 1909, a couple of questions were raised in regards to the technique. Is force-feeding secure? Can it kill? Are medical professionals who feed prisoners opposed to their will leaving behind the clinical moral norms in their occupation? And do country our bodies use felony medical professionals to aid take on political dissidence every now and then of political crisis?

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Extra info for A History of Force Feeding: Hunger Strikes, Prisons and Medical Ethics, 1909–1974

Example text

In doing so, they evoked a crisis in professional conduct. They raised the spectres of medical torture, the politicisation of prison medicine, and an overruling of patient autonomy. In turn, force-feeding provoked an emotional public response rooted in sympathy for those seen as being in unbearable pain. The Home Office stood by its rational argument that prison doctors were simply saving the lives of irrational, suicidal women. Yet many felt horrified at the idea of defenceless women being tortured in penal institutions.

The Home Office required an alternative solution. In September, Charlotte Marsh, Laura Ainsworth, and Mary Leigh were arrested while demonstrating at a public meeting being held by Prime Minister Herbert Asquith. A judge sentenced them to two weeks imprisonment at Winson Street Gaol, Birmingham, where the prisoners immediately went on hunger strike. One Saturday afternoon, a wardress entered Mary Leigh’s cell and forced her onto her bed. Two doctors entered the room. While Mary was being pinned down, one of the doctors inserted a 40 I.

But opportunities arose to speak out once war ended. In the 1920s and 1930s, former conscientious objector prisoners successfully campaigned for prison reform. Some brought considerable change to the prison system. This chapter also briefly considers the fate of force-fed peace activists during the Cold War and Irish republican prisoners during the Second World War (or the ‘Emergency’, as it was termed in Ireland) who were allowed to starve to death. In summary, this chapter investigates the relationship between hunger strikers and wartime governments to consider how the discourses that surround conflict can tarnish the experiences of fasting prisoners.

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