Document Type

Sophomore Honorable Mention

Award Date

Fall 2012

Course Name

Literary Explorations I

Teacher

Erin Micklo

Abstract

Famous Florentian strategist Niccolo Machiavelli once proclaimed that “the end justifies the means.” Today, this quote stirs up images of barbarous practices done in the name of advancement. We hear horror stories of doctors who have knowingly injected their patients with cancer in order to study the effects, all in the name of science. However, in comparison to the aforementioned experiments, a lack of legal consent does not appear to be so hazardous. Cells, such as HeLa, have revolutionized fields of medicine with no harm done to the patient. HeLa was acquired from a poor African woman by the name of Henrietta Lacks, who was dying from cervical cancer. Virology, space travel, and other fields would have been possible without these cells, which were taken without Henrietta’s knowledge. Thus, scientists are acting ethically in acquiring tissue samples from patients without consent for the purpose of advancing scientific knowledge and saving lives.

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