Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Henrietta Lacks And Bioethics
I definitely see purpose in bioethics, within reason. In my opinion that doctor and pathologist had absolutely no right to benefit financially from “HeLa” cells. The first manner of business when their properties were identified should have been to notify Mrs. Lacks of their discovery, attempt further treatment with their findings and offer negotiations for the continued use. Perhaps she could have supplied further samples, her family could have been involved earlier and the “HeLa” cells could have been supplied throughout the scientific community free of charge. I would think it is public opinion that making millions of dollars off of “stolen property” is not just unethical, it is also fraud. I understand that had she not consented and her wishes were respected, that we would not be where we are today as far as our understanding of medicine and human processes, but at the very least a profit should not have been made regarding the sale of “HeLa” cells.
In regards to other bioethics issues, I feel this discipline has a responsibility to protect the individual rights of the patient and "donor," as well as the safety and well-being of the public. I do not, however, think that morals and ethics should be based on any religious beliefs. I do not believe that religion has any place in science, in fact, I believe it to be a detriment to the advancement of science. Morals, without religious belief, are perfectly capable of protecting the public as well as individual patient rights.
As an afterthought, I was unable to find even a mention of bioethics or epidemiology in the index of our text book. Curious.
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