Ethics and morality

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Ethics and Morality Morality and ethics are an important theme in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The lack of morals in Henrietta’s life and cell’s life help the reader better understand how un-ethical the reporters were. The author says, “It was not standard practice for a doctor to hand a patient’s medical records over to a reporter publishing medical records without permission could violate federal law” . The reporters and some of the doctors had a serious lack of morals which changed the story of HeLa cells greatly. Henrietta Lacks' story powerfully reminds us, high scientific tides do not raise all boats. In our current system, we capitalize everything and rely on the promise of profits to fuel biomedical innovation. But some of the very scientific advances made possible by HeLa cells quite possibly did not benefit her family members. As with so many others who do not have access to adequate health insurance or medical care, there was no guarantee that their lives would benefit from the medical advances made possible by access to human tissues.
In this way, the Henrietta Lacks story touches the very heart of the current debate over health care reform, and the need for universal coverage and access to care. Her tale, like health care reform and the ethics of biomedical science, is tied up in how the least of us live. We need a national conversation about more than health care costs and cost shifting. We need one about the ethical foundations of access to care and their relationship to biomedical science -- and what is the right thing to do. It is to be hoped that the newly appointed Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues will get that conversation going. Meanwhile, the saga of Henrietta Lacks tells us that without genuine health care reform, her scientific legacy will forever overshadow her human one. Skloot writes this mostly from a second source. She got most of her information from Henrietta’s daughter, Deborah.

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