Bioethics

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When dealing with medical research involving human subjects, the ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, and justice must be satisfied in order for the research to be ethical. The Belmont Report, The Nuremberg Code and the Declaration of Helsinki, gives us standards intended to assure that research involving human subjects would be carried out in an ethical manner. The Belmont Report applies only to research conducted or funded by the United States, The Nuremberg Code is part of the law of humanity and the Declaration of Helsinki applies in the context of international law and acts as a guideline (is only advisory). Since it is unclear who is funding the research and where it is being conducted in this case, I will analyze all three of these documents. a. Autonomy Autonomy demands that subjects enter into the research voluntarily and with adequate information. The Belmont Report addresses the principles of autonomy as respect for persons in regards to two ethical convictions. (Belmont Report, 1979). First, we must acknowledge autonomy and individuals should be treated as autonomous persons. An autonomous person acts with self-determination or self-governance with understanding, reasoning, deliberation, and independent choice. An autonomous choice is actual governance rather than capacity for governance. An autonomous choice made intentionally with substantial understanding (comprehension) and without controlling influences (voluntary). Participants in research acting as autonomous persons are free to choose whether to participate or to withdraw from a study once apprised with adequate information regarding the research procedure, their purposes, risks and anticipated benefits. Second, we must also protect those with diminis... ... middle of paper ... ...olate the subject’s autonomy in terms of a right to bodily integrity (LaFrance, at 866-68). Finally, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study (1932-73) is widely held as one of the most unethical studies ever conducted and further emphasizes that the lack of informed consent makes research unethical. In the study, researchers followed a group of poor African-American men who were infected with syphilis for more than 40 years without informing them of their disease or what the researchers were really doing and even withholding treatment (penicillin) when it became available, in order to continue their study and observe the long-term effects of the illness. The conduct of the researchers was unethical because potential participants must be informed of all aspects of the research that might reasonably influence their decision to participate in order for their consent to be valid.

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