Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 85–91 | Cite as

Castration Anxiety

Physicians, “Do No Harm,” and Chemical Sterilization Laws
  • Jacob M. Appel
Original Research


Chemical castration laws, such as one recently adopted in the U.S. State of Louisiana, raise challenging ethical concerns for physicians. Even if such interventions were to prove efficacious, which is far from certain, they would still raise troubling concerns regarding the degree of medical risk that may be imposed upon prisoners in the name of public safety as well as the appropriate role for physicians and other health care professionals in the administration of pharmaceuticals to competent prisoners over the inmates’ unequivocal objections. This paper argues that the concerns raised by chemical castration are grave enough that, until they are adequately addressed by policymakers, physicians ought not to participate in the process.


Castration Sex crimes Law Louisiana Sterilization 


  1. Act 441 of the Louisiana Legislature, 2008. SB 144.Google Scholar
  2. Almeida, O.P., and A. Waterreus. 2004. One year follow-up study of the association between chemical castration, sex hormones, beta-amyloid, memory and depression in men. Psychoneuroendocrinology 29(8): 1071–1081.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Appel, J.M. 2003. The forcible treatment of criminal defendants. Medicine & Health Rhode Island 86(11): 367–369.Google Scholar
  4. Appel, J.M. 2011. Capital punishment, psychiatrists and the potential “bottleneck” of competence. Journal of Law and Health 24(1): 45–78.Google Scholar
  5. Berlin, J. 1997. Chemical castration of sex offenders: “A shot in the arm” towards rehabilitation. Whittier Law Review 19(1): 169–213.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Berlin, F.S., and C.F. Meinecke. 1981. Treatment of sex offenders with antiandrogenic medication: Conceptualization, review of treatment modalities, and preliminary findings. The American Journal of Psychiatry 138(5): 601–607.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Boodman, S.G. 1992. Does castration stop sex crimes? An old punishment gains new attention, but experts doubt its value. The Washington Post, March 17, 7.Google Scholar
  8. Bund, J.M. 1997. Did you say chemical castration? University of Pittsburgh Law Review 59(1): 157–192.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Cundy, T., J. Cornish, M.C. Evans, H. Roberts, and I.R. Reid. 1994. Recovery of bone density in women who use medroxyprogesterone acetate. British Medical Journal 308(6923): 247–248.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gostin, L.O. 2003. Compulsory medical treatment: The limits of bodily integrity. The Hastings Center Report 33(5): 11–12.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Harrison, K. 2007. The high risk sex offender strategy in England and Wales: Is chemical castration an option? The Howard Journal of Criminal Justice 46(1): 16–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Helscher, D. 1994. Griswold v. Connecticut and the unenumerated right of privacy. Northern Illinois University Law Review 15(1): 33–62.Google Scholar
  13. Hilts, P.J. 1992. Panel urges contraceptives approval. The New York Times, June 20, 1992 6.Google Scholar
  14. Scholes, D., A.Z. LaCroix, L.E. Ichikawa, W.E. Barlow, and S.M. Ott. 2005. Change in bone mineral density among adolescent women using and discontinuing depot medroxyprogesterone acetate contraception. Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine 159(2): 139–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Slater, D. 2008. The judge says don’t get pregnant. A lapsed law now sees new life. The Wall Street Journal, September 25, A18.Google Scholar
  16. Spalding, L.H. 1998. Florida’s chemical castration law: A return to the Dark Ages. Florida State University Law Review 25: 117–139.Google Scholar
  17. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 2004. Black box warning added concerning long-term use of Depo-Provera contraceptive injection. FDA Talk Paper T04-50, November 17.Google Scholar
  18. Veitch, A. 1984. Cancer fears in US over Depo Provera. The Guardian, October 30, 4.Google Scholar
  19. White, P., C. Bradley, M. Ferriter, and L. Hatzipetrou. 2009. Managements for people with disorders of sexual preference and for convicted sexual offenders. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, no. 4. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD000251.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations