Commission Releases New Documents on 1940's Guatamalan Experiments
The new documents released by the President's Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues on the 1,300 Guatanmalan soldiers, prostitutes, prisoners and mental patients who were deliberately infected with sexually transmitted diseases in the 1940's will turn your stomach.
Here's the story of Berta, a mental patient believed to be dying:
During the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues’ meeting today on the investigation of US researchers deliberately exposing and infecting Guatemalans with sexually transmitted diseases from 1946 to 1948, one member raised the story of Berta.
....Dr. John Charles Cutler [the principal investigator for the study] .... “put gonorrhea puss on her eyes, urethra and rectrum.” Soon after, Berta died. She was one of 83 participants who died during the course of the studies.
The Commission provides this page of questions and answers about the study.
Among the Commissions findings:
- The researchers used no informed consent procedures and they deliberately exposed and infected people who were too vulnerable to object: children, patients in mental institutions, prisoners, and commercial sex workers.
- More than 5,500 people in Guatemala were involved in two types of studies – one that took blood and other bodily fluids from participants, and the other that deliberately exposed and infected the participants with sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and syphilis.
- Experimenters in Guatemala consistently failed to act in accordance “with minimal respect of human rights.”
- The research was sloppily done, marred by poorly thought out protocols and terrible record-keeping.
- The research was ethically objectionable not just by today’s standards, but also by the standards of the time. In 1943, in a study involving prisoners in Terre Haute, Indiana, some of the same researchers fully briefed the prisoners and used informed consent forms.
- The investigators deliberately kept secret its actions from people in the trial as well as the scientific communities in Guatemala and the United States.
|< Political Bargaining and The Presidential Bully Pulpit | Flaws in Military Death Penalty Cases Exposed >|