Free Essay

Ethics

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By monique2015
Words 601
Pages 3
Ethical Principles Paper
According to Oxford University Press (2012), Ethics simple put are “moral principles that govern a person's or group's behavior”. In this paper we will discuss the situation of Henrietta Lacks. We will discuss her demographics, as well as provide a summary of the researcher's actions. Lastly, we will discuss what ethical principles in this research that were violated, and any diversity implications that were involved.
The Demographics Henrietta Lacks
Loretta Pleasant, also known Henrietta Lacks, Hennie and many other names was born August 1, 1920 in Roanoke, Virginia. Henrietta was a poor African American woman who worked as a tobacco farmer and lived with her parents and eight older siblings. Her mother Eliza died from giving birth to her tenth child, all of the siblings were distributed amongst the family. Hennie ended up living on hillside with her grandfather, Tommy Lacks in a four bedroom log cabin with plank floors and gas lanterns. There is where Henrietta gave birth to two children which whom were fathered by her first Cousin David Lacks, which whom she later married.
Summary of Researchers Actions
Henrietta traveled to John Hopkins Hospital after noticing a lump inside of her cervix and bleeding consistently, there she signed a paper consenting to operation. While she was unconscious, Dr. Lawrence Wharton shaved pieces of Henrietta’s cervix, and kept samples of it in a glass dish without her being aware. The samples of her cervix were given to Dr. George Gay; the best cervical cancer doctor at John Hopkins.
Dr. Gay was known for being able to start a cell line with Henrietta’s cells so they could be used for many types of experiments, which he named HeLa. Her cells have helped create medicines to treat various diseases such as herpes, Parkinson’s disease, influenza, and many more. Her family have been getting calls constantly about these cells and the family never received a profit from this million dollar cell.

Ethical Violations
There are a lot ethical issues that I saw was wrong with this story. The problem is medical ethics have been understood more clearly now than they were back then. There is the patient privacy that was violated, she should have been made aware of what happened after the fact at least. She signed the paper for consent of treatment, not knowing that they plan was to take some of her cervix in order to save the world. Granted, she probably would not have had a problem with it, but the doctors should have been clear on what they were doing, the patients have a right to know.
Also, I know that back in the day this may not have been the case but these days her autonomy was violated. Due to the situation that was going on back then, there were not many options that she could have done, that has changed today. She would have had a lot more input in her medical process, and everything would have been explained to the fullest understanding before she signed anything.
Diversity Implications
The main point that I gathered from this story is more on the racial ethical side. There were no places for most colored people back the so she did the best she could. The question arises if the patient was of a different racial makeup would the situation had been handled differently? The answer to that question can be answered in many ways but it is best to leave it alone and let everyone draw their own interpretations. References
VIDEO (1997). Cancer Cell Research: The Way of All Flesh. From Films on Demand.

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