Henrietta and her siblings dropped out of school at a very young age. This had a negative effect on Henrietta later on in life because, her lack of education made it difficult for her to read and write. This prevented Henrietta and husband from working well paying jobs, and forced them to work more laborious, low paying jobs that did not require an education. Luckily when she became sick, John Hopkins offered medical services to patients who could not afford medical care. However, in return for treatment, physicians would use patients who did not pay, as research subjects to compensate for free service. Since Henrietta’s education influenced her to have a low income, she did not have enough money to afford medical care. As a result, physicians felt it was okay to take her cells without her permission since she was receiving free care.
Another factor that influenced the taking of her cells, was her race and the time period. Henrietta lived during a time of racial segregation. Most patients who received treatment from the colored portion of John Hopkins Hospital could not afford their treatment, and received it for free. As a result, many physicians used colored patients for research more often than white patients. This was allowed during this time period because there were very few medical laws and policies developed to prohibit the use of patients for research. A combination of Henrietta being a person of color, and the lack of medical policies, ma...
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... about an individual’s personal rights over their own tissue. Many would agree that informed consent is crucial to a person’s personal rights over their tissue. However, I feel that there is a greater impact in helping thousands of people even if that means disregarding the individuals right over their tissue. In the case of Henrietta, it was ethically incorrect to use her cells without her or her families’ knowledge, however if it were not done many medical advances might not have occurred. By donating Henrietta’s cells, regardless of her choice, many discoveries have been made in science that have helped the health of many people. Most people after having tissue removed, have no purpose or use of it anyway, so it might as well be donated to science where it will be used. Donating tissue to science does not harm the individual or the population it can only benefit.
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