In re: Cincinnati Radiation Litigation
Case No. C--1--94--126
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO, WESTERN DIVISION
874 F. Supp. 796; 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 401
January 11, 1995, Decided
January 11, 1995, FILED
Selections from the decision by Judge Sandra Beckwith
From Page 13 (...on liberty)
The Plaintiffs allege that they were purposefully misled
in several respects. First, Plaintiffs allege that they
were specifically not informed that the radiation they were
receiving was for a military experiment rather than treatment
of their cancer. Further, Plaintiffs allege that they
were never informed that the amount of radiation they
were to receive would cause burns, vomiting, nausea,
bone marrowfailure, severe shortening of life expectancy,
or even death. When a person is purposefully misled about
such crucial facts as these, he can no longer be said to exercise
that degree of free will that is essential to the notion
"...To manipulate men, to propel them toward goals
which we see but they may not, is to deny their human
essence, to treat them as objects without wills of their
own, and therefore to degrade them. This is why to lie to
men, or to deceive them, that is, to use them as means for
our not their own, independently conceived ends, even if
it is to their own benefit, is, in effect to treat them as sub--
human, to behave as if their ends are less ultimate and
sacred than our own. . . . For if the essence of men is that
they are autonomous beings--authors of values, of ends
in themselves . . . --then nothing is worse than to treat
them as if they were not autonomous but natural objects
whose choices can be manipulated.
(From, Isaiah Berlin, Four Essays on Liberty 136--37 (1969).
From Page 23 (...volunteers)
The allegations in this case indicate that the government
of the United States, aided by officials of the
City of Cincinnati, treated at least eighty--seven (87) of
its citizens as though they were laboratory animals. If
the Constitution has not clearly established a right under
which these Plaintiffs may attempt to prove their case,
then a gaping hole in that document has been exposed.
The subject of experimentation who has not volunteered
is merely an object. The Plaintiffs in this case must be
afforded at least the opportunity to present their case. As
Justice O'Connor indicated in her dissent from United
States v. Stanley, 483 U.S. 669, 97 L. Ed. 2d 550, 107 S.
Ct. 3054 (1987),
"...the United States military played an instrumental role
in the criminal prosecution of Nazi officials who experimented
with human beings during the Second World
War . . . and the standards that the Nuremberg Military
Tribunals developed to judge the behavior of the defendants
stated that the voluntary consent of the human subject
is absolutely essential . . . to satisfy moral, ethical,
and legal concepts. . . . If this principle is violated,
the very least society can do is to see that the victims are
compensated, as best they can be, by the perpetrators. I
am prepared to say that our Constitution's promise of due
process of law guarantees this much."
For more on the Cincinnati radiation experiments see:
Stephens, Martha. The Treatment: The Story of Those Who Died in the Cincinnati Radiation Tests
Duke University Press, 2002. 349 pages, $28.95.
For more on the history of research ethics, see:
Rothman DJ. Strangers at the Bedside: A History of How Law and Bioethics Transformed Medical Decision-Making
New York: Basic Books, 1991.
Beecher, H.K. (1966). Ethics and clinical research. New England Journal of Medicine, 274(2), 1354-1360
© Copyright 2002 Carl Gandola.
Last update: 7/30/02; 11:41:24 PM.