Body modification practices and the medical monopoly

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-327
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Theory and Practice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • body modification practices
  • respect for persons
  • medical monopoly
  • conscientious refusal
  • controversial medical services


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