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Persons who commit crimes involving sexual abuse of children exploit their victims in several ways. Sex offenders use their power and authority over vulnerable children to whom they have easy access. Teachers, coaches, clergy, family members and childcare workers have been exposed as sex offenders. The Pennsylvania State University football coach, Jerry Sandusky, is now in prison for his many crimes. The widespread cover up of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the USA and other countries is a horrendous scandal. It is not surprising that law enforcement, mental health professionals, victims and their families are outraged. It is no surprise that radical interventions such as chemical or surgical castration are a response to the public pressure to protect children from molestation.
I agree with Professor John McMillan's thoughtful discussion and nuanced analysis of surgical castration.1i He concludes that surgical castration of sex offenders is ethically permissible if these conditions are met:
Castration should be requested by the sex offender.
Informed consent (including positive and negative side effects) from a competent sex offender is required.
Consent to castration must not be coerced via threats or inducements.
He also says that “castration might be useful for the reconfiguring of a life that has gone badly awry.”
To supplement his discussion I will describe a state law in Texas2 that permits voluntary surgical castration (orchidectomy) for repeat child molesters while they are incarcerated as …
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