Tuskegee Paper

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Andrew Nichols
SOC 303
September 21st, 2012
Tuskegee and Medical EthicsIn 1932, a predominant sense of sub-par living conditions among residential African American farmers in Macon County, Alabama had kept most men and women desperate to adopt a better standard of community health and economic stability. The collective psychological state was mostly in a place of anxiety or desperation, with hope to develop and sustain an improved quality of life. It's understandable why as many as 600 individuals were willing to participate in what was advertised as “special, free health care” exclusive to the black community.

Description of the Study
At the time, informed consent laws were not present to protect patients against possible medical malpractice, and government health officials took full advantage of this non-disclosure to garner results at the expense of the Tuskegee sharecroppers. The men were led to believe they were receiving treatment for “bad blood”, an expression of general ailments due to local impoverishment. In truth, the men were never informed of their diagnoses nor were they ever treated, unknowingly receiving placebos despite the discovery and standard practice of Penicillin during the 1940's. The questionable purpose of the study was for observation to further investigate the damaging effects of untreated syphilis, and therefore the patients were deliberately prevented from acquiring any actual treatment.

Main Argument
The documentary “The Deadly Deception” aims to bring public awareness to the unconstrained biomedical misconduct that emerged in the early 1930's known as the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. The behavior and methods of the U.S. Public Health Service are brought into question by physicians, historians, and actual subjects of the study, arguing how various social factors such as prejudice contributed to the initiation and prolonged execution of the project. Many absent health standards and legal factors are also analyzed for their...
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