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Why physicians ought not to perform virginity tests
  1. Kevin Gary Behrens
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kevin Gary Behrens, Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, Wits 2050, South Africa; kevin.behrens{at}wits.ac.za, kevin{at}earthfriendly.co.za

Abstract

In this article I argue that it is not morally justified for physicians to perform virginity tests. First, I contend that, on the basis of the principle of non-maleficence, physicians should not perform virginity tests, because of the potential harms to those who are tested that can result from such tests. Second, I highlight some of the social harms that the practice causes, and argue that physicians ought not to be complicit in causing these harms. Third, I argue that physicians ought not to perform virginity tests on the grounds that testing for virginity is scientifically impossible, and physicians are morally obliged to practise according to scientific principles. Finally, I contend that an ethically sound response to virginity testing requires that the medical profession as a whole should follow the example of the Quebec College of Physicians in declaring this practice by physicians as unethical.

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