Skloot Ethics

663 Words3 Pages
Humans have fought against many diseases throughout history. Scientist have performed excitements on various test subjects to gather information on how to fight disease. Many of the test subjects had questionable morals and ethics surrounding them, such as HeLa cells. In Rebecca Skloot’s contemporary biography, The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks, Skloot revealed with appeals to ethics the complex story over Henrietta’s cells. Skloot gave a cautionary piece of history of how racism and dissocia in the scientific community harmed a family.
Many black patients faced racism. Many unethical medical treatments happened due racial inequality. Skloot described Henrietta’s treatment as the same treatment as whites, with “biopsy” “radium” and radiation” treatments, juxtaposed with the treatment of blacks described with “fewer pain medication” and “higher mortality rates” (64). Skloot appeals to ethics by having given an example of racism, a principle of ethics considered wrong by many.
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Dissociation with subjects caused harm with the subject’s families. The Lackses suffered from racial inequality as many black families did. The Lackses had little money, and ironic to the situation HeLa cells sold for “Twenty-five dollars, sometimes fifty” while the Lackses received no money from the cells of a deceased member (81). To bring attention to issue facing the Lackses, Skloot displayed the lack of monetary compensation. The lack of compensation and involvement caused the animosity of the Lackses towards the hospital and scientist involved with HeLa. The lack of involvement also displays with the state of Deborah and Zakariyya described as “trance,” “mouths open,” and “cheeks sagging” after having learned of the fate of Henrietta (265). Henrietta’s children grew up not knowing and understanding what happened to heir mother, which Skloot used to display the sufferings of the Lackses. Dissociation with families of scientific subjects caused harm to the
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