The Value of Informed Consent

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The Value of Informed Consent

All throughout history, science has pushed the boundaries on what is possible in this world. When thinking of a scientist, people tend to visualize a frail older man wearing lab coat with wild, graying hair while carrying an oddly shaped beaker of some colored liquid in his hand. One would imagine that he is pondering some complicated theorem, or simply mixing colorful solutions together in his lab. For many of us, we cannot imagine that he would ever do anything that could potentially harm others; not with all of the standards and codes that are in place today. In order for a scientist to experiment on another person in any way, they much first receive what is called “informed consent” from the subject. To do so, the scientist must inform the research subject of all possible risks, or any other information that could potentially affect their ability to make a knowledgeable decision as to whether or not they are willing to participate in the study. What many do not realize is that there was once a time when such rules did not exist. Prior to the establishment of human and civil rights, and even for some time afterwards, scientists have historically been willing to sacrifice whoever they needed to in order to quench their seemingly insatiable thirst for knowledge. Nearly 80 years ago, on January 30, 1933, the country of Germany appointed Adolf Hitler as chancellor. This date is recognized throughout the world as the beginning of the Holocaust. The Holocaust was the systematic, government sponsored eradication of the Jewish population of Europe (as well as Blacks, homosexuals, political enemies, and those who were mentally/physically handicapped). Hitler convinced the inhabitants of Germany that Jews were a threat to the well-being of the country and needed to be dealt with. He began putting various laws in place to restrict the freedoms of Jewish people in Germany, and they were treated as second class citizens. Before...
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