experiment takes away bodily autonomy W r i t i n g
OUTLINE ONLY NEEDED FOR “MISS EVERS BOYS” USE ATTACHED FILE FOR ASSIGNMENT DETAILS. here is some other material that may assist:
Center your argument on the idea that the doctors in the Tuskegee experiment deal with their patients in a paternalistic way–that means they act as though they know everything and the patients know nothing (they also don’t want patients to ask questions about their illness or treatment). On top of this paternalism comes the problem of race: Dr. Douglas, the only white character in the play, is in charge from the beginning. He talks Dr. Brodus and Nurse Evers into going along with the experiment although both are very uncomfortable (look around p. 40 for the conversation about studying the effects of untreated syphilis). So, the combination of paternalism and racial prejudice leads to the violation of biomedical ethics: the doctors deny patients autonomy over their bodies, and they violate the principles of non-maleficence (which means to do no harm).
I would structure the essay as follows:
- Section on the paternalistic attitudes of Douglas and, to a lesser extent, Brodus
- Section on the racial dimension of that paternalism: Douglas looks at his Black patients as nothing more than objects to study, not human beings. Even Brodus (although he’s Black) adopts that outlook, although by the end of the play, he voices his objections more loudly.
- Section on what the result of racist paternalism: discuss what doctors do to patients exactly (not treating them but essentially watching them die). There are plenty of places in the play you can work with. And focus on the way in which the experiment takes away bodily autonomy. You can devote one paragraph to each of the men who are in the study. Only Caleb manages to regain power over his own body when he walks away from the experiment.
- Devote a paragraph or two to the point that the Tuskegee experiment is at the heart of African Americans’ distrust of the healthcare system. There are several short and useful newspaper articles on our website. Go to “Content” and then to “Secondary Material.”