Modern medicine provides many new treatments. But do those treatments always respect the rights of patients and their families? Do some treatments go too far, running against the desires of society at large?
Here at the Science Museum of Minnesota we are hosting the Deadly Medicine exhibit that looks at the history of science taken too far in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. The last day to see the Deadly Medicine exhibit is this Sunday, May 4th, 2008.
How are the lessons of history informing current day questions of medical ethics? Read the three case studies that follow. Tell us which action you would choose. Then, see if your decision changes as you learn more information. You can see how your answers relate to the answers of other visitors after you complete each survey.
Speaking of movies related to the Deadly Medicine exhibit, Abby Mann, who won an Oscar for writing the screenplay for the 1961 movie, JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBERG, passed away last week. Mann originally scripted a TV drama about the trials, then went on to write his first film screenplay on the same subject.
"A lot of people didn't want it done," he once said in an interview. "People wanted to sweep the issue under the rug."
Mann's screenplay won the Academy Award in 1962.
Popular Mechanics has put together a list of 10 movies that made some accurate predictions about the future – including Gattaca, which foresaw some of the bioethics questions we grapple with in the exhibit Deadly Medicine.
"(Within bioethics) there are areas where we absolutely must denounce some violations of the fundamental rights of human nature through experiments and genetic manipulation whose outcome is difficult to predict and control," he said.
Some of the practices the Archbishop listed human cloning, experimenting on human subjects, and stem cell research that involves destruction of embryos.
While these statements do not rise to the level of official Church teaching, they do illustrate how people in every age must respond to the moral challenges of their times.
The Science Museum is hosting an exhibit entitled Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race which touches on similar themes of medicine, science and morality.
Join us for a lecture in the Deadly Medicine series: "Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to Present.
American blacks have long suffered from health adversities not shared by whites, and the problem persists even today, decades after the end of state-sanctioned racism. As Harriet A. Washington writes in her new book, Medical Apartheid, the "racial health divide confronts us everywhere we look, from doubled black-infant death rates to African-American life expectancies that fall years behind whites." To the question of how this disparity came to be, she provides a provocative answer.
Though slavery and segregation form the backdrop of her analysis, Washington believes that a very specific aspect of past discrimination against blacks explains the unequal levels of treatment and health that are still with us. Her focus is on the long history of medical experiments of which American blacks were the unwilling or unwitting subjects. These past injuries, Washington argues, have "played a pivotal role in forging the fear of medicine that helps perpetuate our nation's racial health gulf." Long after the events themselves, she believes, the memory of abuse has remained.
(Harriet A. Washington has been a fellow in ethics at the Harvard Medical School, a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University. As a journalist and editor, she has worked for USA Today and several other publications, been a Knight Fellow at Stanford University and has written for such academic forums as the Harvard Public Health Review and The New England Journal of Medicine. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards for her work.)
Thursday, February 28
SMM Auditorium, Level 3
Presentations at the Science Museum are $12 per person ($8 for Science Museum members). Admission to Deadly Medicine is included in this ticket price. Purchase tickets to four of the lectures and get the fifth one free. For tickets, call (651) 221-9444.