Henrietta Lacks Violation Of Autonomy At Johns Hopkins

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Herded onto slave ships, forced into labor, and treated lower than animals, 12.5 million Africans were brought to the New World between 1525 and 1866 and became the foundation of the United States, a country now based on liberty and justice for all. Just because America is a beacon of hope and a symbol of equality in the 21st century, its roots in slavery are not morally justified by its current state. Similarly, Henrietta Lacks’ violation of autonomy at Johns Hopkins may have been accepted back then, but it does not make violating her autonomy any more morally correct. Despite the monumental advances in science that stemmed from Henrietta Lacks’ cancer cells, the violation of Henrietta’s autonomy and the hardships she and her family faced …show more content…

Henrietta Lacks was treated in a hospital as another data point to be mapped. According to Kant, morally good people should never treat someone as a means to an end. In Chapter 3, Skloot states that Henrietta did sign a waiver form that allowed the physician to perform any necessary procedure, but it never stated her agreeance to Johns Hopkins taking a sample of her cervical tissue or that she would be informed of any procedures. In fact, no one ever told Henrietta that TeLinde was collecting samples. The samples were taken for Gey and his research purpose of growing immortal human cells. After HeLa cells became widespread, industries like Microbiological Associates in Chapter 13 commercialized the production of HeLa and sold HeLa cells in the millions to scientists all over the world. However, no one at Microbiological Associates bothered to ask where HeLa cells are from and why none of the profits go anywhere else. Henrietta’s cells were used as a means to earn money for the company and a means for George Gey to be famous. Even her healthcare physician Dr. TeLinde used Henrietta as a means for expanding on his cervical cancer procedure of using radium. As Henrietta and her visit to Johns Hopkins was essentially her being used as a stepping stone for another person’s career, she was treated as a means to an end. Taking her cells without her permission, selling them without her or her family knowing, and her treatment overall is not morally good nor

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