from AllianceForHumanResearchProtection Website
2000 - Health News Network
from Rense Website
Roberta Kalechofsky, PhD.
In 1907, Dr. Albert Leffingwell concluded his booklet, Illustration of Human Vivisection, with this chilling prophecy:
The intellectual and philosophical rationalizations, as well as much of the practice of human experimentation, was well advanced by the end of the nineteenth century, and presents a continuing danger to human rights today, particularly when faced with the stimulus of crisis and war.
The real history of vivisection begins in the nineteenth century with the rise of the experimental method in science, and subsequently in medicine. It arises from and accompanies animal experimentation which, with the work of Claude Bernard in the mid-nineteenth century, became the standard methodology in modern medicine. As soon as animal vivisection became standard practice, the question arose about experimental research on human beings.
Animal researchers recognized that an inescapable problem had been created: the only way animal research could really be validated for human medical problems was to finally conduct the experiment on human beings, for there is no assurance from animal research itself that a given drug would be valid for human application.
A famous example is the fact that aspirin kills rabbits, and if researchers had been guided in their use of aspirins by this laboratory research, human beings would have been denied a valuable drug.
Michael Krater summarizes the process in his book, Doctors Under Hitler.
However, Michael Krater's further statement is only partially true:
That was the desideratum, but by the turn of the century experimentation on human beings was on its way to becoming respectable. The famous chemist, E.E. Slosson wrote on Dec. 12th,1895, in the New York Independent,
Professor Starling of University College, London, openly declared in 1906 to Britain's Parliament at its investigation into vivisection practices, "The last experiment must be on man."
An article in The New Republic (April 26 and May 2, 1999) by Jerome Groopman, quixotically entitled "Merciful Medicine," describes the system very well:
Groopman goes on to describe Phase II and Phase III of human experimentation, in an article intended as a plea to allow those who wish to to volunteer for human experimentation.
It was only a matter of time until medicine would arrive at this point where the need for volunteers for human experimentation would become inescapable and would mandate a "merciful plea."
As Michael Krater describes the escalation under Nazi Germany,
The evolution from animal experimentation to human experimentation is a logical consequence of laws governing the experimental process, whether in Nazi Germany, or elsewhere, and not the result of preferring humans to animals.
As Krater writes,
The Weimar law passed in 1931 with respect to animal and human experimentation required that German and, subsequently Nazi, doctors must first conduct their experimental procedures on animals before proceeding to human beings.
This law was never abrogated in Nazi Germany and is similar to laws in the United States today. All experiments with human beings are and were first conducted on animals, and experimenters in and out of Nazi Germany had to validate this procedure.
Thus, when Dr. Karl Rascher made his request on May 15, 1941 to the Reich Leader Himmler, "for two or three professional criminals," for high altitude test experiments of eighteen thousand meters, he pointed out that this experiment had been tried on monkeys, but that monkeys outlived their usefulness at 12,000 meters, and he now had to proceed to the use of humans. Research on animals does not protect human beings from becoming experimental guinea pigs.
In her book, Subjected to Science: Human Experimentation in America Before the Second World War, Susan Lederer writes:
This information is in the medical journals of its time, The American Journal of Syphilis of 1943, and the Journal Cut. Genito-Urinary Diseases of 1895.
It is germaine to the problem of informed consent that two of the subjects are described as "idiots," therefore presumably incapable of giving informed consent. Who then gave it for them, and should others have the right to give such consent for others? Should a parent in need of money have the right to give consent for a child to be experimented upon? Would this be considered "selling" a child to science. These are problems that degrade the integrity of the concept of informed consent.
Leffingwell documented experiments by Dr. Sydney Ringer of University Hospital of London, who experimented with poisons, such as overdoses of salicin, nitrate of sodium, gelseminum and other toxic agents, often on children under the age of ten. Due to the experiments, the children suffered from severe headaches, vomiting, twitching of limbs, burning sensations in the eyes, and other painful symptoms.
Dr. Leffingwell commented:
Dr. Ringer's experiments were published in a book called Handbook of Therapeutics. Far from receiving criticism for his experiments on children, Dr. Ringer's book went through eight editions and was regarded as a respectable medical book.
Indeed, the Commission uncovered decades of evidence of routine human experimentation.
Some of these experiments were published in 1949 in E. Westacot's book, A Century of Vivisection and Anti-Vivisection. Westacott's book describes the experiments of Professor Neisser of Vienna who, on March 29, 1899, reported in the Medical Press of Vienna, how he had inoculated eight healthy children with syphilis.
Three of the children developed symptoms of the disease, and a fourth suffered later in life from a cerebral tumor. While Professor Neisser was condemned and fined by the disciplinary court of Breslau, he was rewarded by the West London Chirurgical Society in England in 1911, with the Cavendish Gold Medal for his research, and a reception was held in his honor. Apart from the Nazi doctors, it is hard to find a single doctor who was seriously punished for human experimentation, and who was not in fact professionally rewarded.
The experimenters were not punished. Moreover, this case further illustrates that the doctrine of "informed consent" proves to be practically inoperable in the case of institutionalized people, particularly children, because in most of these circumstances it is the institution's supervisor who is responsible for giving "informed consent" and usually gives it.
One of the most famous cases in human experimentation involves an Irish servant girl, Mary Rafferty, who entered Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati in 1874, with an ulcerated tumor on the side of her head, which had been caused by a bad burn.
Mary Rafferty's case demonstrates the characteristics usually inherent in cases of human experimentation: the ambiguity involved in determining whether informed consent had been obtained, the shadow land between experimentation and therapy, the fact that only the attending physicians really know the truth of what occurred.
Her physicians diagnosed the ulcer on her scalp as cancerous and apparently attempted to treat her condition surgically. When they believed that her situation could not be remedied, they proceeded to experiment on her. One of Mary's physicians, Roberts Bartholow was interested in experiments Dr. David Ferrier had made with dogs using electric shock to determine the localization of epilepsy.
The experiments with Mary are described as follows:
The Mary Rafferty Case illustrates a persistent pattern in issues of human experimentation: she died a few days later, and her death certificate stated that she died from cancer.
There was criticism of Dr. Bartholow's experiment: it was condemned by the American Medical Association, but Dr. Bartholow did not suffer professionally. Indeed, he advanced professionally. Scandal arises, then scandal subsides, and the researcher is rewarded.
We do not permit condemned prisoners to be tortured on the excuse that they're going to die anyway. (However, there are constant proposals from research medicine that prisoners on death row be used for experimental purposes. Would such "experiments" constitute torture or not?)
Examination of particular experiments invariably suggests that the patient did not understand what he or she was consenting to. "Informed consent" proves to be a treacherous deception in many cases.
At a conference on "The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code" at Boston University in 1989, Dr. Arthur Caplan stated that the principle of informed consent, which is the cornerstone of protection for human rights in a medical context, is now so eroded that it has evolved into "protection of the researcher" and a license to experiment.
Though this step marks a grave departure from the Nuremberg Code, it has aroused little public reaction. Of course, the argument in defense of the lifting of this ban is the necessity to treat a patient, even experimentally, who cannot speak for him or herself.
But how many people are wandering about without any identification? The population of "unidentifiable" people is immediately identifiable: the homeless and probably illegal immigrants.
His study unsurprisingly reveals that "informed consent" is often a mirage, often coerced from frightened people who are in too much pain and confusion to withstand a request from a doctor.
In the introduction to Gray's book, Bernard Barber exposes the myth of medical experimental outrages as the aberration of a "few bad doctors."
Experimentation on human beings is not the work of a few aberrant doctors; it is systemic, because it is the system by which modern western medicine works.
Exposés of outrageous experiments, such as Dr. Henry Beecher's book, Research and The Individual, written in 1966, often endorse research on human beings. Dr. Beecher wrote,
The Nuremberg trials brought to light the horrors of medical experimentation on human beings, and tried to articulate a restraining formula by stressing the concept of "informed consent," but the trials also recognized that
In 1931, Germany already possessed a good bioethical code which contained almost all the points of the Nuremberg Code.
Yet it failed to curb the rapacious desire to experiment. By the time of the Nazi experiments, the legal procedure and conduct of experimentation with human beings had been laid down in Germany, the United States and England. Experimentation on human beings was not condemned. What was condemned in Germany was the political and racial uses of human experimentation, and its excesses.
The defense of the Nazi doctors rested on the argument that their procedure was standard Western medical practice, and they submitted cartons of documentation of experiments on human beings in Western hospitals to prove their case, including an exhaustive volume, entitled, Experiments on Human Beings in World Literature, by Dr. Erich H. Hahlbach, which describes such experiments as those conducted on "eight hundred convicts from three American prisons" artificially infected with malaria, who presumably volunteered for this experiment, prisoners in Turkey sentenced to death, infected with typhus, prisoners sentenced to death infected with plague, etc.
The defense pointed out that,
The defense's argument was that experimentation with human beings had been accepted medical procedure.
The question, they asked, is whether "medical experimentation can be considered a crime." The prosecution did not argue this, but condemned the experiments because they had been used for political and racial purposes. A half hour's reading in The Encyclopedia of Bioethics , under "human experimentation," "minority subjects," reveals that it had been thus for half a century. The Encyclopedia documents cases of experimentation on human beings of minority populations and Third World populations.
William Silverman of Columbia University, said:
There are examples of experimentation on human beings that is more democratic. Ed Regis' book, "The Biology of Doom: The History of America's Secret Germ Warfare Project," ( Henry Holt & Co., 2,000) writes of those experiments when U.S. Nay ships,
Prior to this, in October, 1940,
The race to develop genetic medicine has opened new temptations for doctors to experiment on human beings.
The death of Jesse Gelsinger, 18 years old, who suffered from a non-threatening liver ailment, and was induced to undergo genetic treatment for it at the University of Pennsylvania, has exposed appalling practices that are now a century old: the cavalier behavior of the experimenters, the hasty patched-together "informed consent" form --after his death--- other procedural misconduct. ("The New York Times, Jan. 27, 2,000, page. 1, " Youth's Death Shaking Up Field of Gene Experiments on Humans.)
There were outstanding examples of this procedure in the nineteenth century, and occasionally one still hears of a medical doctor experimenting on himself (or a member of his family), but as human experimentation went from what David Rothman called "a cottage industry" in the nineteenth century to its present dimensions as an indispensable part of modern medicine requiring ever larger populations, "voluntary science martyrs" disappeared.
The reasons for this are not hard to find: If Mary Rafferty had understood what she presumably was consenting to, she would not likely have consented. Some who do consent are usually those in desperately dependent positions.
Researching on the ignorant and the disenfranched allows the researchers to maintain control of the research process.
Animal experimentation is "the core to understanding the whole process of human experimentation," for if the poor, the mentally retarded, the homeless, the orphaned and the imprisoned have little voice, the animals have no voice, and it is voicelessness and rightlessness that invests the whole procedure from animal to orphan to the mentally retarded.
The silence of the medical communities in Germany and the United States after the Second World War revealed the desire of the medical communities to distance themselves from the outrages of Auschwitz, by silence and by spreading the myth that the German experiments was the work of deranged scientists.
In his anthology, When Medicine Went Mad, Arthur Caplan asks why bioethics has so little so say about the Holocaust:
When the Nazi doctors were asked in the Nuremberg trials how they could have brought themselves to perform such experiments, they responded that they had been trained by doing them on animals.
Time is exposing the desperate myth that animal experimentation replaces or disposes of the need for human experimentation, and that the work of the Nazi doctors was that of "mad scientists." Some of it was bad science, but some of it wasn't, and the work of the Nazi doctors has been entering mainstream Western medicine for decades.
The Columbus Dispatch in 1984 revealed that a researcher in British Columbia had been using the information from Nazi experiments on hypothermia. The Jerusalem Report of Feb. 22, 1996 revealed that Dr. Howard Israel, an oral surgeon at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York was dismayed to discover that his valuable and trusted book, Pernkopf's Topographical and Applied Human Anatomy contained illustrations that may be based on the cadavers of concentration camp victims.
Caplan's question in When Medicine Went Mad, "Should Nazi data from the experiments be used?" has been answered: Nazi data has been used by many scientists from many nations.
As Raoul Hillburg wrote in The Destruction of the European Jews,
The protagonists of the practice of human experimentation justify their views on the basis that such experiments yield results for the good of society that are unprocurable by other methods or means of study.
All agree, however, that certain basic principles must be observed in order to satisfy moral, ethical and legal concepts: