Prisoners of Henrietta Lacks, and the Value of Their Fate

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Prisoners of Henrietta Lacks, and the Value of Their Fate
Inquiry Question: How does Rebecca Skloot’s depiction of prisoner experiments and research change the way we think about how early medical developments were first brought to life, and who really took the risks we should credit for them?
Hypothesis/Working Thesis: Considering the reduced liabilities, rights, and public outreach of prisoners in the past, using prisoners as test rats was viewed as highly unethical and forceful by many.

Skloot, Rebecca. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. New York: Crown Publishers, 2010. Print.
In the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot not only argues her point, but also does a great job at informing and teaching her readers the vast risks prisoners were susceptible to while being used by doctors as human guinea pigs. Skloot makes many references to different potentially deadly diseases that were injected into prisoners for further research. The public’s opinion on this happening was shocking; many thinking it was highly unethical and forceful of the doctors. Skloot makes claims about how prisoners were viewed as vulnerable inmates who were unable to give informed consent. Regardless of how the treatment was viewed, prisons and doctors did what they wanted to do in those days ranging from diseases, to chemical warfare agents, to deterring how X-raying testicles affected sperm count (Skloot 129). Throughout her study of how HeLa cells have expanded, and where they originally came from, Rebecca Skloot stumbles upon many unethical and blatantly abusive periods in this countries past of the exploitation of prisoners rights.

De Jong, Greta. Sentenced to Science: One Black Man's Story of Imprisonment in America. The Historian 71.3 (2009): 604+. Academic OneFile. Web. 8 Nov. 2012.
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