02 October 2010

Guatemalan experiments

I came across this in the news today, and was plainly shocked.

In today's society and times, human subjects are very closely guarded. Any time a researcher wants to do as much as reviewing charts, one has to get permission from the institute's IRB (Institutional Review Board), after taking a tutorial and test about human subjects.

The fact that a power such as the United States took advantage of the poor and minorities is incomprehensible to me. Between 1946 and 1948, Dr. John C. Cutler was involved in a study in Guatemala. He infected 696 people with syphilis (+/- gonorrhea) by sending infected prostitutes to call on prisoners and enlisted men alike... anyone resistant was inoculated directly. The records are fuzzy as to whether the men were then treated with penicillin, or what the dose was--never mind the prostitutes. Dr. Cutler was apparently also involved in the Tuskegee Study in Alabama. At the Tuskegee Institute between 1932 and 1972, 600 black men who had syphilis were followed (all in the name of science and medicine, certainly) without being offered treatment. In both of these cases, the people involved did not know that they were being used as human test tubes... experimental subjects.

The Eugenics movement started around the same time--in the early 1940s--with the introduction of Planned Parenthood. Eugenics is the belief that certain people are unfit to breed and pass on their genes--and so they should not. We all joke that there should be a permit to procreate--to have children--these people were not joking. For people like Margaret Sanger, population control was the name of the game. Honestly, I had no idea that this was the impetus behind Planned Parenthood!!

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