The Tuskegee experiment on syphilis became one of the most controversial examples of a crime against humanity in the field of health and care which was supported and sponsored by the United States Public Health Service. The issues of protection of human beings in research and violation of the people’s right for treatment and care are explored in “Miss Evers’ Boys” (1997) with references to the development and results of the Tuskegee experiment.
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The Bioethics Principles which were determined and defined in the 1970s can be discussed as the basis for analyzing the problem of violating the people’s rights and supporting actions developed against the ethical norms presented in “Miss Evers’ Boys”. The Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male was worked out in relation to following inhuman intentions to prevent African-Americans afflicted with syphilis from the available treatment in order to support the hypothesis about the racial differences in the disease’s progress.
Thus, the problem of violating the ethical standards in providing the medical research in “Miss Evers’ Boys” is closely connected with the issue of racial tensions and the aspect of segregation in the American society.
The Tuskegee experiment was started in the 1930s, and it was halted only in 1972, in spite of the fact the experiment was based on studying the disease’s development in the black men of Macon County, Alabama, without providing the necessary treatment (Miss Evers’ Boys, 1997). From this point, the question of protection of human beings in research was defied from the experiment’s beginning.
The characteristic features of presenting the facts of the experiment in the movie allow discussing the controversial issue of protection of human beings from different perspectives and with references to several ethical issues. The real purpose of the experiment is hidden from the participants of the study. That is why, all the people who are involved in providing the experiment can be accused of violating the ethical principle of protection of human beings in research which was not stated legally during the period of conducting the study.
The fact of the need of the provided research cannot be discussed as the justification for preventing black males who suffer from syphilis from the necessary treatment, especially during the period when penicillin was available as the major medicine for treating the disease. Physicians and researchers were inclined to follow the idea of the experiment rather than focusing on the ethical principles. From this point, the position of the movie character Miss Evers cannot be analyzed only from one perspective.
Realizing the real aspects of the experiment, the woman does not provide the necessary treatment, following the conditions of the study, but breaking the ethical norms. The nurse’s actions can be explained by her understanding the impossibility of changing the situation when several decades passed in hopes for starting the treatment (Miss Evers’ Boys, 1997). Nevertheless, her silence and support of the inhuman actions as well as the physicians’ activities have no reasons to be justified.
The ideas of protecting human subjects in medical research were significantly violated in the Tuskegee experiment, but the study’s results accentuated the necessity of developing the legal constraints on medical research according to the problem of human subjects’ protection. The problem is in the fact that such ethical norms as the protection of patients’ life and health were not addressed in the Tuskegee experiment because of the researchers’ intended actions. To avoid the development of the same situations in the future, the Bioethics Principles and necessary legal constraints were worked out.
Miss Evers’ Boys [Video file] (1997).