U.S. Panel Releases Study of 'Ethically Impossible' Research

September 14, 2011

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues on Tuesday issued its full report on experiments conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service in which people in Guatemala were exposed in the 1940s to sexually transmitted diseases, and the conclusions are clear from the report's name: "Ethically Impossible." President Obama charged the panel with studying the research after it became public last year. Amy Gutmann, chair of the commission and president of the University of Pennsylvania, said: “In the commission’s view, the Guatemala experiments involved unconscionable basic violations of ethics, even as judged against the researchers’ own recognition of the requirements of the medical ethics of the day. The individuals who approved, conducted, facilitated and funded these experiments are morally culpable to various degrees for these wrongs."

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