Students Pledge to Preserve Human Dignity

Zoe Laporte, Web Editor

From left to right: Dr. David Rehm, VPAA, Jessica Randall, Director of Student Success Center, Dr. Grace Chen, Assistant Professor of Biology and Megan Hurley, College Retention Liasion take part in the candle lighting to remember the victims of the Holocaust and medical abuse.
From left to right: Dr. Stacy Gallin, Dorothy Chambers, CANDLES Executive Director, Dr. Tessa Chelouche, and Dr. Susan Miller participating in the candle lighting to remember the victims of the Holocaust and medical abuse.

The Center for Human Dignity in Bioethics, Medicine and Health is encouraging everyone to take a human dignity pledge as a promise to preserve human dignity in health care.

The pledge outlines six key points emerging from the experiences of those who have suffered from medical injustices, and they include respecting the autonomy of a person, and upholding dignity, equality, and justice in health care.

Sr. Jean Messaros, Vice President for Mission Integration, said that every person should be treated with dignity and respect.

“[The pledge signers] are bearers of hope, healing and compassion,” Messaros said.

Featuring Dr. Tessa Chelouche, manager of a Primary Care Family Practice in Israel and Co-Director of the Maimonides Institute for Medicine and the Holocaust,  the  human dignity pledge began strong Jan 29.

In commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day and to remember the victims of medical abuse throughout history, a candle lighting and group reading of the pledge was held, and Dr. Stacy Gallin, Center Director, wanted the audience to realize how important their attendance was that night.

“Congratulations – you just launched a movement!” said Gallin.

Misericordia, joining forces with MIMEH, the Department of Bioethics and the Holocaust of the UNESCO Chair of Bioethics  and CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center, is taking the initiative with this pledge.

“Misericordia is a light to follow,” said Gallin. “This is a little spark and we’ll make it grow, this message is so large and so necessary.”

The pledge is already gaining international popularity for its signers: Holocaust survivor and past Misericordia guest Eva Mozes Kor, as well as residents of Texas, Missouri, Denmark, Canada and other locales.

Those who signed the pledge at the event received a pin, a marker for someone who promises to preserve human dignity in health care.

Gallin hopes that in the future the pledge’s popularity will lead to a patient seeing a physician wearing that same pin.

Earlier that day, Dr. Susan Miller held a master lecture, “Medical Experimentation During and After World War II” to a standing room only crowd in Sandy and Marlene Insalaco Hall.

Chelouche presented “Reflecting on the Past to Protect the Future: Medical Ethics and Human Dignity after the Holocaust” in Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall following the pledge reading.

Chelouche focused on the U.S.  eugenics movement and the following actions of the Nazis before and during World War II. While her presentation was graphic at some points, it was important to understand the gross mistreatment of innocent people.

“This is our past, and we should learn from it,” said Chelouche. “I think we must choose to speak out.”

The pledge for human dignity was partly created from the experiences of the victims of the Holocaust. After the medical experiments performed by Dr. Josef Mengele, other Nazi doctors, and the creation of the Nuremburg Code, a pledge for human dignity helps preserve an understanding of those detrimental actions and how people must learn from them.

“We must use Holocaust stories to create a better world,” said Gallin.

The Center for Human Dignity in Bioethics, Medicine and Health was created after the  2016 exhibit, “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race,” that showcased human medical maltreatment during the Holocaust. The Center promotes the ethics of medical practice and builds on the teachings in the Medical and Health Humanities Program.

To learn more about the pledge, please visit: