Perhaps the most shocking medical story of 1972 was the tale of the medical experiments in Tuskegee, Alabama. For forty years the U.S. Public Health Service conducted a study in which four hundred African-American syphilis victims unknowingly served as the subjects of a medical experiment. Even though penicillin, a cure for syphilis, became available in 1943, the study subjects were never treated for the disease. Instead the study used the corpses of the subjects to determine the effects of disease on the human body. The officials of the health service who began the study were long retired by 1972; but their successors expressed serious doubts about the morality of the investigation. The experiment raised important new ethical questions for the medical profession.
Under examination by the press, the Public Health Service was not able to locate a formal protocol for the...
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