Do The Ends Ever Justify The Means? Sample Essay

In her novel. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. writer Rebecca Skloot addresses the many fluctuations of moralss by stating the readers about the life of a hapless African American Southern baccy worker life in a clip where racism was evident. In 1951. Henrietta was diagnosed with cervical malignant neoplastic disease when she was 30 and reseachers had taken her cells without her permission. The major concern that arises in the novel in my sentiment is the deficiency of informed consent and knowledge given to Henrietta before and her household afterwards. Regardless of race. gender. or socio-economic position. physicians and research workers have a moral duty to inform their patients exhaustively. supply them with side-effects that may happen. and to pass on decently with the household in instance of decease. While these and some other issues are simply portrayls. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks provides a narrative field within which these issues can be observed by reflecting on the experiences of many different persons.

Harmonizing to one beginning. informed consent is defined as “a patient’s consent to a medical process must be “informed. ” A patient gives an “informed consent” merely after the [ insert type of medical practician ] has to the full explained the proposed intervention or process. ” ( Web ) The history of informed consent could be said to hold derived from the Nuremberg Code. established in 1947. which was stated in the novel as. “a ten-point codification of ethics… which was to regulate all human experimentation worldwide. ” ( Skloot 131 ) This codification was created after Nazi physicians used Judaic captives for medical research. without their consent. Informed consent is a legal philosophy developed by the tribunals and has been adapted throughout the old ages. but when Henrietta was diagnosed at Johns Hopkins with cervical malignant neoplastic disease. this was non the instance. To decently ‘inform’ one must do known and clear. Lacks gave consent but it was non communicated to her.

Communication between a physician and his patient is cardinal. Harmonizing to one beginning. “ Informed consent is more than merely acquiring a patient to subscribe a written consent signifier. It is a procedure of communicating between a patient and doctor that consequences in the patient’s mandate or understanding to undergo a specific medical intercession. ” ( Web ) In the 1950s the criterion of medical specialty was paternalism. whereas the physician was seen as the male parent and the patient as a kid ; the physician holding all the power in what’s best for the patient. However today it is more seen as patient liberty. Meaning the patient has more self control but doctors besides have the duty to bring forth all agencies necessary for the option of liberty. The doctor-to-patient relationship holds that the relationship between the two is reciprocally respected. portions knowledge and/or trust. and gets across all information needed ; particularly the side-effects involved. In the communicating procedure. the physician should unwrap the hazards and benefits for the given intervention and/or process. Henrietta was non told about the hazards of going sterile from the radiation intervention though Hopkins had been utilizing Ra to handle cervical malignant neoplastic disease since the 1900s. One of the effects from the radiation was that her tegument had become black and charred. Skloot provinces. “ Each twenty-four hours. Henrietta’s physicians increased her dosage of radiation… Each twenty-four hours the tegument on her venters burned blacker and blacker. and the hurting grew worse. ” ( Skloot 65 ) You would believe that the physicians would hold stopped the intervention with the side-effects she was holding physically. particularly the hurting. But so once more. the lact of communicating and liberty was apparent in those yearss.

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Before Henrietta had even died. Gey had learned that the cells they stole from her while making a everyday biopsy. were still continually turning at a fast rate. After she had died. Gey knew that it was illegal to take any tissue from her organic structure without permission. When Day had refused the necropsy the first clip about. he was once more asked. Skloot states that. “ they said they wanted to run trials that might assist his kids someoday. ” ( Skloot 90 ) So eventually Day agreed even though that was non their purpose. While her cells are multiplying and being used for research. the Lacks household had no hint what was traveling on. Was that just? Well no. of class it isn’t just. But you have to inquire yourself this. would they hold known what the cells were used for? I candidly don’t believe they would hold. but that is no ground to maintain them in the dark. They were non told about the HeLa cells until 20 old ages after her decease ; they found out when her name was made public. Many believe that since the pharmacuetical companies have manufactured the HeLa
cells and made money off of it. that the Lacks household should besides derive a net income. However I feel otherwise in some ways.

When something is taken from you whether its justified or non. it becomes unpossesive to you. Skloot provinces. “When tissues are removed from your organic structure. with or without your consent. any claim you might hold had to having them vanishes. ” ( Skloot 205 ) In the instance of John Moore. this was believed to be factual. Moore had tried to action for the belongings rights of his cells and lost. even though the justice ruled he wasn’t given the proper cognition.

In decision. I believe that Henrietta Lacks and her household should have better intervention and regard. The deficiency of informed consent was morally incorrect. The physicians knew better. but they besides knew Henrietta did non. Henrietta has helped out 1000000s and her household should be thankful for that. because in the terminal I am certain that is precisely what she wanted ; to do people happy. We have a strong codification of moralss now. and I genuinely do believe her narrative had some portion in it. small or little. So yes. I can hold that in some instances the terminals do warrant the agencies.


“Informed Consent” Patient Physican Relationship Topics. American Medical Association. Web 9th December 2011.

“Informed Consent Definition” California Civil Jury Instructions. Justia. Web. 9th December 2011.

Skloot. Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Crown Publishers. 2010. Print.


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