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Halpern AL, Halpern JH, Freedman AM. 
“Now is the time for AAPL to demonstrate leadership by advocating positions of social importance”. 
J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2004 Jun;32(2):180-3.
The American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL) and other medical organizations have not taken a position on the abolition of capital punishment because of a long-standing tradition of remaining neutral on "nonmedical" societal issues that are highly divisive. It is the authors' contention that taking a stand on vital social issues that are clearly in the public interest is wholly consistent with the stated purposes of AAPL and that the time has come for an open and frank discussion by the membership on the merits of altering its policy, with particular focus on eliminating the death penalty. The present article explains why capital punishment can no longer be considered a nonmedical societal issue and why AAPL must awaken to take on controversial matters such as this one. For AAPL to continue to avoid this debate and silence any attempt to organize opposition to the current status quo will only serve to embolden those who argue in favor of the death penalty. Such continued silence betrays any notion of neutrality and is an abdication of the canons of medical ethics we have all sworn to uphold.
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