Medical Apartheid


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Medical Apartheid

  1. 1. Medical Apartheid The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present By Harriet Washington
  2. 2. Oral Culture <ul><li>“ Don’t let the lion tell the giraffe’s story” </li></ul><ul><li>Stories of medical abuse dismissed as myth </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural and political bias coupled with Western literary bias </li></ul><ul><li>“ Race, culture and economics have trumped medical and scientific truths at every turn” </li></ul><ul><li>Medical culture mirrors larger culture of inequality </li></ul>
  3. 3. Antebellum South <ul><li>Deadly triple confluence—the pathogens of North America, Europe, and Africa </li></ul><ul><li>Subtropical climate, poor sanitation, public-heatlh vacuum, nutritional-deficiencies </li></ul><ul><li>“ Treatments” nearly always ineffective, often harmful </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mercury, arsenic, bloodletting </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Slaves often thought to be feigning illness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Whipping or beating as “medicine” </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Medical Racism <ul><li>1839: Caucasians have larger skulls, brains </li></ul><ul><li>1851: Made up “black” diseases </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Drapetomania -desire to ecape </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hebetude-shiftlessness or laziness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dysthesia Aethiopica -desire to destroy owners’ property </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Struma Africana -type of “black-only” tuberculosis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cachexia Africana -eating non-food substances </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Treatments for whites were thought to kill blacks </li></ul>
  5. 5. “ Immunities” <ul><li>Thought to be completely immune to malaria as well as yellow fever, smallpox, pellagra, typhoid, heat exhaustion </li></ul><ul><li>Thought to be immune to physical, emotional pain </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Justified torture, maimings, beatings, brandings and the exposure to painful medical procedures </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Experiments <ul><li>Doctors did not ask consent or explain their reasoning or intent </li></ul><ul><li>No formal ethical or legal codes for consent </li></ul><ul><li>Experiments included everything from inflicted blistering “to see how deep black skin went” to involuntary sterilization to untried pharmaceuticals, innoculations, and dangerous surgeries </li></ul>
  7. 7. James Marion Sims <ul><li>Experimented on black children including puncturing their parietal bones and move them into new positions </li></ul><ul><li>Experimented on black women peri- and post-natally, making repeated incisions into vaginal tissues </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Offered no anesthesia during procedures but were drugged with morphine for weeks afterward </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Anatomical Dissection <ul><li>Black bodies considered expendable </li></ul><ul><li>John Does, homeless, destitute blacks often ended up as cadavers in teaching hospitals </li></ul><ul><li>Grave-robbing in African American cemeteries was common </li></ul><ul><li>Black prisoners were often executed and used for dissection </li></ul><ul><li>Remains rarely re-interred </li></ul>
  9. 9. Tuskegee Syphilis Study Macon County, Alabama, 1932 <ul><li>Lied to 600 poor black men with syphilis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Studied disease progression, not treatment even though curable with penicillin </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promised health care and drugs; often giving aspirin only </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Public Health Service characterized blacks as “intellectually inferior, impetuous, degenerate, and, above all, at the mercy of frighteningly powerful sexual drives” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reality: 61% of cases were non-venereal </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Tuskegee Syphilis Study Macon County, Alabama, 1932 <ul><li>Sick men were tracked until death to ensure autopsy </li></ul><ul><li>Study continued for forty years during which men were denied treatment </li></ul><ul><li>Tuskegee became iconic symbol of racialized medical abuse and a source of iatrophobia (fear of medical treatment) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Eugenics <ul><li>Early 1900s: “selective procreation to refine the human race while conquering social dysfunction” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonization of black parents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Black women forced to have “Mississippi Appendectomy” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1915, Dr. Harry Haiselden kills black infants because they would have gone through life as “defective” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Haiselden makes propoganda film “The Black Stork” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Eugenics continued with Nazis </li></ul>
  12. 12. Birth Control <ul><li>By 1941, 100,000 Americans had been involuntarily sterilized, disproportionately black </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Medical records falsified to cover hysterectomies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Birth control pill pushed but no care for nutrition, infectious diseases, infant mortality etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Dangerous IUDs were dispensed mainly in inner-city clinics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Infections, cancer, permanent infertility </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Norplant, Depo-Provera trials </li></ul>
  13. 13. Other Research <ul><li>Subjected to injections of radioactive materials, including black infants </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Used radiation to whiten skin, remove hair </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Experiments on black prisoners </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1 prison, 1 doctor tested 153 experimental drugs in 4 years </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Black children not exempt from experiments </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ Fen’ administered to measure violent propensity, 1997 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Infants tested for HIV, status withheld, 1980s </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Cultural Mirror <ul><li>“Medical ill-usage has not strictly paralleled scientific knowledge. Rather it has mirrored the larger American cultural beliefs as well as politics and economic trends.” </li></ul><ul><li>As the social and legal landscape for black Americans has improved, so have research practices. </li></ul><ul><li>Unfortunate exportation of similar practices to Africa </li></ul>