Endings and Beginnings: Law, Medicine, and Society in Assisted Life and Death

By Larry I. Palmer | Go to book overview

sionals to "play the God game" because of patient "faith" in medical progress. 50 The regulatory processes developed over the past twenty years to deal with human experimentation have at the same time increased the amount of these experiments, as well as the growth of new cures and greater life expectancy. There is also the concomitant growth in the possibility for individual pain and suffering. Perhaps nothing so nakedly shocking as the Tuskegee Study would happen now, but other events are happening and will happen. This is why institutional analysis is so critical. In the face of this powerful cultural alliance between science and medicine, legal institutions must intervene in ways that maximize the likelihood that individual notions of death, decay, and health will prevail over professional notions of medical progress.


NOTES
1.
Lewis Thomas, The Youngest Science: Notes of a Medicine-Watcher ( New York: Bantam Books, 1984), 54.
2.
Larry I. Palmer, Study Guide for Discussion Leaders, Susceptible to Kindness: Miss Evers' Boys and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study ( Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, 1994), 8. For a detailed account of the study, see James H. Jones, Bad Blood: The Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment ( New York: Free Press, 1993). What the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male was creates some controversy in the context of the physician-assisted suicide debate. For instance, Jack Kevorkian, a longtime advocate of using death row prisoners for medical experiments, has stated that the Tuskegee Study involved imprisoned black inmates. See Kevorkian , Prescription Medicide: The Goodness of Planned Death ( Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1991), 170.
3.
Jones, Bad Blood, 151-55.
4.
Several articles discussing the study appeared in various medical journals, including R. A. Vonderlehr et al., "Untreated Syphilis in the Male Negro: A Comparative Study of Treated and Untreated Cases," Venereal Disease Information 17 ( 1936): 260-65; Sidney Olansky et al., "Environmental Factors in the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis," Public Health Reports 69 ( 1954): 691-98; Donald H. Rockwell et al., "The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis: The 30th Year of Observation," Archives of Internal Medicine 114 ( 1961): 792-98; as well as ten other published reports. See generally Jones, Bad Blood, 281-82.
5.
National Research Act of 1974 § 2029(a)(1)(C), Pub. L. No. 93-348, 88 Stat. 348 (codified as amended in 42 U.S.C. § 2891-1).
6.
"The Commission shall conduct an investigation and study of the use of psychosurgery in the United States during the five-year period ending December 31, 1972." National Research Act, § 202(c).
7.
National Research Act, § 202(a)(1)(A).
8.
David J. Rothman, Strangers at the Bedside: A History of How Law and Bioethics Transformed Medical Decisionmaking ( New York: Basic Books, 1991), 255.
9.
National Research Act at § 212, 88 Stat. at 352-53 (codified as amended in 42 U.S.C. § 2891-3).

-14-

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