Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Ethics of Human Experimentation without Consent

If you have ever been bored enough or enticed enough by money with minimal effort involved, I'm sure that you will be familiar with proper protocol for a scientific experiment. Whether it is an invasive procedure (needles and radioactive injections) or a survey, a subject consent form is naturally involved. Ever since the supposition that people have rights of their own to protect and that fairly detrimental procedures to the individual are more important than the good that we can surmise for general population (look I don't believe it but scientifically speaking it's true), there will always be an "informed consent form". If you care you will read it and sign, if you don't you will just sign. The idea of informed consent has been applied to most areas of life that require the ensuring of rights and our humanity such as medicine, law, pharmaceuticals, taping for television, facebook, and sex.

What sparks this topic this month are the recent articles that I have found that have to do with the idea of consent at the beginning and at the end of life.

So lets start at the beginning. I know that the idea of stem cell research is a very touchy position for people to choose sides on, especially with the whole "an embryo is a person" thing. Personally, I support it and I support abortion. The two go hand in hand, you see its a great business plan. Aborted babies go to stem cell research and everyone is happy; no kid and they did not go to waste, they are helping humanity. And don't tell me we don't already needlessly throw away humanity. So yes I'm a fan of this, however I am not a fan of sneakily stealing baby bits for random purposes without consent. Thank you Britain for doing this and making the race that will destroy the world. The realization comes at the end of the article when Britain is like, "oh god what have we done?!" It's not like they've harvested body parts before. When it comes to the body it is incredibly important to know where things are headed and what for. Tissue was collected in tissue banks hopefully for furthering the the studies of stem cell regeneration, etc. I'm sure the tricky wording of the collection forms made it sound like it would be nothing at all, probably something to help cancer, not for actually creating spiderman. American Banks have something called Standards, an ever changing set of rules unavailable to the public (I've been searching for a good couple of hours now, nothing accessible without subscription. There is a need to be informed or at least have the idea of information readily available before making such a bold donation. Sperm has one function, Tissue is very general and has many purposes. Do not feel stupid to ask what all the masses of print mean, that is what the people who give you the forms are supposed to be responsible for. Some people have the opportunity to agree to help humanity, others are not as lucky.

The truth is, prisoners are people, recovering from bad deed done. We forget this, it is an easy thing to do. But this does not mean that they are incapable of decision. Even those on death row should have a choice on their last moments of life quality. What PART of that discussion is right? I think they are being punished enough. I mean, it would be a PITY if they were to pass out and die an excruciating, long, and painful death while walking to the chair... SERIOUSLY, they are still people! This would mean that prisoners on death row not only will be subject to dangerous experiments without their consent, they will also fall victim to the side effects...which are unknown! And I'm guessing these aren't the "please fill out a survey" type of experiments, which also need consent. This type of experimentation can range anywhere from taking out organs/brain bits/limbs to see what happens to infecting/injecting experimental biochemical warefare/experimental vaccines that lead to illness and infect the world. Picture them, with their last meeting with a loved one canceled because they have anthraxAIDSwine flu because the scientists want to see how fast they die. I say infecting the world, because the actions of a human being cannot ever be truly contained or monitored. Especially with viruses and bacteria, they could stay on the walls, prison gaurds/cleaners have to clean those places up, launderers have to wash the sheets, the sheets are all infected, the prison is infected. It's a raccoon city waiting to happen. Experiments to help battle the current plagues of humanity I would understand, or even donating the organs to people who needed them or consented scientific organizations. But medical experimentation inevitably is bad for us all no matter how well contained...always ends in zombies.

So hey, guess what, there are things you have no choice in anyway. This has been going on forever. Emergency experimental procedures implemented to help aid recovery, aka House M.D. Therapeudic procedures have been done without consent in hopes to help the patient, the ER is also the only place that these sorts of situations are available to be tested on. It requires a lot of trust in your physician and trust in the people that you have appointed to make decisions for you when you are unable to. However when this parlay is in play, its a carte blanche excuse to experiment to fix things and experiment just because. Hello Tru Blood. Doctors also take advantage of the fact that people are unconscious in general. They've also been just throwing shit in the things you do everyday, like drinking.

Medical malpractice happens, it is a risk we take by leaping into science and putting our lives in its hands. Science is everchanging and its solutions are not finite. It is also being practiced by human beings who are prone to anything from shaky hands to very questionable ethics. Morality is something that everyone questions in other people and it changes from person to person. You can even say that my statements on abortion is terrible and wrong. However, the information on your choices in science are out there. Do not sign away blindly, ask questions about the advancements being made instead of accepting them to be. Science is a process that has alternative paths to the same goal. Even if the goals are hybrid human animals, we all have judgment. You can make the choice to advance what you wish to advance.

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