Human experimentation has been taking place for many decades and in various forms as well as for various reasons or objectives. However, human experimentation is a serious act and one that will be given consideration in this work in writing. According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia medical experimentation that was unethical in nature took place during the Third Reich and is distinguished by three types of human experimentation in the medical field: (1) the first is reported as experiments that had the objective of the “survival of Axis military personnel” in experimentation with high-altitudes through use of a low-pressure chamber in order to determine whether the maximum altitudes that crews of aircraft that were damaged could parachute to safety; (2) The development and testing of pharmaceuticals and treatment methods encountered by Germans in the field. Testing was also conducted in the area of immunization compounds and sera for contagious disease treatment and prevention; and (3) experiments that sought to bring advancement to racial and ideological tenets of the view of the Nazis. (Holocaust Encyclopedia, 2013).
The Nazis additionally performed experiments in sterilization geared toward ultimately sterilizing those of the Jewish race. The U.S. military base tested all types of drugs and chemicals using service members during the Vietnam War and worse than the damage is the fact that the service members were given the choice to participate in the medical experimentation or to go to jail. Such things tested included “tear gas, barbiturates, tranquilizers, narcotics and hallucinogens like LSD”. (Holocaust Encyclopedia, 2013) Because of the exposure of these servicemen to substances such as Agent Orange, many of them have developed Parkinson’s disease early in life. Medical experimentation is not the only type used by the U.S. government since it also uses psychological experimentation including torture and waterboarding as authorized by George W. Bush, former U.S. President. (Leopold and Kaye, 2010)
There are those who argue for human experimentation and state as proof the incident involving Edward Jenner, an English doctor who noticed in 1796 that dairymaids were somehow immune to smallpox due to their close contact with a virus called cowpox that affects the udder of an infected cow. Jenner removed samples from the hand lesion of a dairymaid and then injected the sample into the arm of an 8 year old boy. The boy is reported to have “developed a fever, lost his appetite and felt discomfort in his armpit. However, he soon recovered”. (Krans, 2013) This demonstrates that there are positive aspects to human experimentation. A cardiologist was fired from Northwestern University Hospital in Illinois in for reported that non-FDA approved, experimental medical devices were being implanted in patients without their knowledge or consent. Dr. Nalini M. Rajamannan should have been commended rather than fired for adhering to his duty as a gatekeeper in the medical profession area of ethics.
Failing to gain consent from individuals who are participants in human experimentation of any kind constitutes a flagrant disregard for ethics. The Ascension Network states “No one should be the subject of medical or genetic experimentation, even if it is therapeutic, unless the person or surrogate first has given free and informed consent”. (2013) The U.S. as well as the Nazis during the Third Reich has been guilty of conduction human experimentation. This type of experimentation without the consent of participants in highly unethical and is dangerous as well. Doctors should be gatekeepers of ethical behavior in the medical profession and should report such incidents to authorities. There are however, incidents where human experimentation had positive results but the ends do not justify the means.