What can COVID-19 teach us about CONSENT?

‘Terrified’ Healthcare Workers Fear Lack of Protection Against COVID-19

Many of us will soon be thanking God for our ability to check into a hospital. We’ll be counting on the help of courageous, medical front-liners, who put themselves at risk to heal us from COVID-19.

As we approach the reception desk for intake, we won’t give a second thought to signing the CONSENT form that hospitals require. We’ll happily jot down our signature and scribble our initials where required. Some of us won’t even bother reading the form. Even less will contemplate the horrific travesty and social injustice that created this ritual, that today, seems more like an inconvenience than a protection.

How did this important protection come about? 

Survivors of Dachau concentration camp “Ethnic cleansing” was a ghastly and brutal plan that most people rarely contemplate, or simply never heard of. Generations were born and became adults since the experimental atrocities the Nazis committed at concentration camps during World War II. The Nazi goal was to create a perfect Aryan race by finding the best, most efficient way to annihilate Gypsies, Jews and anyone who did not fit the mold they sought.

Dr. Josef Mengele taken around 1938
Dr. Josef Mengele, known as “The Angel of Death” circa 1938

At war’s end, in Nuremberg, Germany, 24 Nazi officers and medical professionals stood trial for the grotesque human suffering they had caused. The amount would have been higher but several, like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, committed suicide to avoid capture. This trial lead to the creation of Nuremberg Code.

Today, Nuremberg Code protects you against another person’s nonconsensual invasion of your body integrity in medical research, and its principles have also been adopted for medical treatment.


1. The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential.

This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved, as to enable him to make an understanding and enlightened decision. This latter element requires that, before the acceptance of an affirmative decision by the experimental subject, there should be made known to him the nature, duration, and purpose of the experiment; the method and means by which it is to be conducted; all inconveniences and hazards reasonably to be expected; and the effects upon his health or person, which may possibly come from his participation in the experiment.

The duty and responsibility for ascertaining the quality of the consent rests upon each individual who initiates, directs or engages in the experiment. It is a personal duty and responsibility which may not be delegated to another with impunity.

What this means today…..

If your fight for survival from Coronavirus, leads you to a hospital or other medical facility, rest assured that the defining words of Nuremburg Code, which explicitly set forth the meaning of “consent,” will guide the behavior of every member of their medical team, and hold them all accountable.

You won’t see the term “informed consent” in Nuremberg Code. It’s a modern day, unnecessary affectation.  All consent is “informed agreement,”  but not all agreement is “consent,” because not all agreement is “informed.” Only informed and knowledgeable agreement, that meets the additional requirements Nuremberg code sets forth, qualifies as “consent.” It’s pretty simple when we’re dealing with medical issues. But society is stricken with a nasty case of befuddledom when it comes to consenting to sexual contact.

The very same words in Nuremberg Code’s uncontrovertible, definition for consent – should guide all sexual conduct as well! 

Consent is consent, no matter how it is applied! We at the Consent Awareness Network (CAN), have fought long and hard to clearly define consent in penal codes across the US and around the world. Nuremberg Code, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that governs cyber privacy and cyber security throughout the European Union, and my TEDx Talk, When YES Means NO – The Truth about Consent, give us clear language to do so. All three consent definitions are on the same page!

PA Rep. Wendi Thomas, with CAN Ambassadors: Nina Lucas, Joyce Short (Founder), and Gina Abrams

CAN is on the cusp of securing a bill to properly define consent in the laws of Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has slowed down progress, but we have faith that this transformational change, to protect you against a sexual predator’s nonconsensual invasion of your body, will shortly be back on track.

Simply put:

CONSENT is freely given, knowledgeable and informed agreement without the intervention of any element of force, duress, coercion, deception, fraud, concealment or artifice.

You can help turn this transformational wording into sexual assault law today!