slomo wrote:The only traction in this debate is the verifiable abuses that the medical establishment have, in the past, inflicted upon underprivileged groups without their knowledge. This is something that institutional science and medicine know about, and can't argue against. In other words, human subjects protection is the pivotal rhetorical point, the only one that has the potential to be heard.
http://www.democracynow.org/2007/1/19/m ... history_of
JUAN GONZALEZ: — and exactly how these kinds of disparities began to manifest themselves. Could you talk to us a little bit about —especially about those early years, especially during the period of slavery?
HARRIET WASHINGTON: Right, the early years, it was quite chilling. First of all, it’s important to understand that there was a scientific animus called "scientific racism," which at that time was simply science, and it posited that black people were very, very different from whites, medically and biologically. And this provided a rationale and an underpinning not only for the institution of slavery — slavery probably could not have persisted if there hadn’t been this medical underpinning — but also for the use of blacks in research.
For example, it said that blacks were less intelligent, sub-human, perhaps not even quite human, that they didn’t experience pain, that they were immune to diseases like malaria and heat sickness that made it impossible for whites to work in the field, but made them perfect for labor in the field. So this set of beliefs, this set of scientific beliefs, was not buttressed by any real data, but only by the needs of the community. And this actually gave permission for doctors to acquire slaves for research.
They also had a variety of conditions for which — a good example is reproductive health. All of the early important reproductive health advances were devised by perfecting experiment on black women. Why? Because white women could say no. White women were not interested in having doctors looking at their genitalia during the Victorian era, and white women were not interested in undergoing painful surgery without anesthesia, but black women could not say no.
So this animus began, as you say, in the very early days of our republic, and it simply snowballed until, by the time of the Civil War, blacks were being used, almost exclusively in some venues and in very high proportion in others, for everything, from vaccine design, experimental surgeries. And they were never consensual; you never asked their permission, and rarely were they therapeutic. They were mostly to expand medical knowledge.
A lot of the abuse in African Americans has dissipated, but that kind of research is being conducted in Africa, where the people are in the same situation. They don’t have rights. They don’t have access to medical care otherwise, and Africa is being treated as a laboratory for the West by Western researchers. Very troublesome.
JUAN GONZALEZ: You mention specifically the EZ measles vaccine?
HARRIET WASHINGTON: Yeah, that’s a very good example. A vaccine that killed hundreds of children in Brazil and Africa was then used in Los Angeles on parents who had no idea that the vaccine was experimental. They were only told that their children were being vaccinated.
http://articles.latimes.com/1996-06-17/ ... es-vaccine
I often purposely avoid commenting on wedge issues, but just wanted to add this bit of history (that everyone here probably already knows about, even if only in a general sense)