Northridge Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment Ethics Violations Paper
Discussion 2: Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment
The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment conducted by the government lasted 4 decades with an overabundance of ethics issues. Watch the documentary film, The Deadly Deception, (link below) and respond to the discussion questions.
Name and explain at least two ethics violations you learned about. (up to 6 points)
What level(s) of government (federal, state, county, or city) was involved in each case? (up to 4 points)
1. Name and explain at least two ethics violations you learned about.
Medical misconduct – There is no evidence that researchers obtained informed consent from participants, and participants were not offered available treatments, even after penicillin became widely available.
Disregard for human rights in the name of science – They withheld treatment from men diagnosed with the disease; all poor, black, and deceived by the promise of care in favor of studying the effects of syphilis and watching their patients deteriorate.
What level(s) of government (federal, state, county, or city) was involved in each case?
Federal levels of government got involved, as congressional hearings were called to determine the ethics of the case and how the survivors should be compensated. They called upon the executive branch, as President Bill Clinton was asked to publicly apologize to the survivors and their community for past government wrongdoing related to the study.
- The first ethical violation is not telling them they are conducting a study on them. It is an ethical violation because these men did not know they were being experimented on. Many men thought they were being treated and were given hope that they finally had treatment, without realizing they were “guinea pigs.” The difference between today’s experiments on people is that they know and consent to the study. The second ethical violation is neglecting treatment for these men. The reason why it is an ethical violation is that everyone has the right to ask for treatment. Whether their disease is just starting or had that disease for more than a decade, everyone deserves to have treatment. The third ethical violation is only having the experiment with one race. This is an ethical violation because it only focuses on race and not on the disease. Yes, some diseases are prominent to one race than another. However, it becomes a problem when everyone can get the disease, and the scientists only look at that one specific race and only do studies on them while other races can experience the same disease.
In each study case, the levels of government were federal. In the beginning, syphilis has everyone scared. Then, the federal government decided that white people don’t catch the disease; they must give basic treatment for black people. Then, once the Great Depression came, the federal government stopped giving them treatment. As for the case for Herman, the federal government pushed a program that anyone can get treatment for syphilis but not for the people of Macon County