Ethics And Morality of Man

Ethics can be seen as a set of codes set by society on good values while morality is more subjective and is based on someone’s beliefs and interpretations. For example, drinking alcohol might go against your morals while others might say its okay. An example of ethics can be killing someone for scientific research which is wrong. Ethics and morality play a key part in the book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” Ethics is based on your broad morals.

Henrietta lacks carried cells that became the first “immortal” human cells that are still alive today. But the doctors extracted the cells after her death without her or her family’s consent even though it was used for inventing cures for diseases and developing new treatments. Hela cells have become the first immortal human cell line—the cells reproduce infinitely in a lab which led to many medical contributions. In the book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”, Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer.

After her death, the doctors extracted the cancer cells from her body without the family’s consent.

However, the cancer cells were used for research and eventually used to create vaccines and treatments. Hela cells saved millions of lives and doctors still use it till this day to find cures for other diseases. But taking cells from a patients body without their consent is against doctors morals even though at that time the practice was normal. Taking cell samples was considered a procedure at the time because there were no laws at that time to say she did not sign any official document.

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There was no official name for the “procedure” of taking cell samples. Therefore, doctors say that Henrietta did in fact sign all the papers necessary to perform any procedures within the ethical bound. The cancer cells kept growing and growing and lived longer outside her body than it did inside her body. This resulted in the improvement in medical science even though it conflicted with the doctors moral and ethical codes.

Another example of a conflict between someone’s ethics and morals is the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. The government working with the Tuskegee Institute began a study to record the natural history of syphilis in hopes of justifying treatment programs for blacks. The study was conducted without the patient’s consent. The patients did not have any idea what they were being treated for, they were just informed that they were going to be treated for bad blood. But in truth, they were just being watched until they died. The patients were promised free food, free medication, and free burial insurance. Patients had no idea what the consequences would be nor did they know about any of the risks that came with these treatments. Although the treatment was originally projected to last 6 months, the study actually went on for 40 years. The men conducted for the experiment were never given the accurate treatments. The Tuskegee experiment was not justified ethically. The study became unethical because even when penicillin became the recommended drug for the treatment of syphilis, the researchers did not offer it to the subjects.

The Tuskegee study raised a lot of ethical issues such as informed consent, racism, unfair subject selection in research, truth-telling and justice, among others. The experiment broke all the ethical codes the doctors had and there were no real positives that came out of it. No knowledge was gained from this experiment and the risks were way too high in order to conduct this experiment. The experiment did not have any positive impact in the medical field. Another example where one’s ethics and morals were involved is when the Puerto Rican women were used to test the birth control pills. The testing took place in Puerto Rico. The article “Guinea pigs or pioneers? How Puerto Rican women were used to test the birth control pill” by Theresa Vargas states “In the mid-1950s, the first large-scale human trial of the pill was launched in a public housing project in Puerto Rico – and the distrust was immediate.

The controversy over the field trials began almost the minute the first woman swallowed a pill,” wrote Margaret Marsh and her sister Wanda Ronner in a biography of one the pill’s creators, John Rock, a gynecologist renowned for his work on infertility. “Within weeks of the trial’s start, El Imparcial, a popular newspaper, accused the project’s sponsors of conducting a ‘neomalthusian campaign,’ and local doctors told their patients that the pill was dangerous.” The women who were tested in this experiment were illiterate and uneducated. They had no idea if the pills were dangerous or not. The women who took the pills were poor and wanted another way to control their family growth. The article states that “Around here they say that these pills have been used only in animals in the United States and only here have they been given to women? Is this so?”

One of the researchers was questioned about the pill, the answer was “completely false”. The reasoning for this study was to control the growth of global population, the artical states “In some ways, it was exploitative – you’re giving this drug that you don’t really know for sure what its effects are going to be”. This proves that the study was done without much knowledge and were given to poor women in Purto Rico so that the researchers can take advantage and find out the results from a medicine that was only tested on rats and pigs. The article also states “There were no laws there against birth control. And the location’s overcrowding and poverty made it especially attractive to biologist Gregory Pincus, who was concerned about global population control.”

This shows that the researchers took advantage of women in Puerto Rico just because there were no laws against birth control and that they were poor which made it easy for the researchers to attract people. The whole experiment took advantage of poor, uneducated women which goes against a lot of people’s morals and ethics. The researchers were confident and felt that they were doing the right thing according to their ethical codes but the women were not informed peoperly of the risks nor were the researchers sure if the pill was dangerous or not. Some researchers believe that the ethical codes were not broken because the women conducted in the study “had aspirationsfor their families,” but however that does not justify why the women were not informed about the health risks and also the chance die.

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Ethics And Morality of Man. (2021, Dec 26). Retrieved from

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