Miss Ever’s Boys is a docudrama film that was produced by the HBO cable network. The movie explores ethical and social issues involved in the infamous Tuskegee Study. The study was about untreated black men with syphilis. The U.S. Public Health Service is said to have conducted a study among 600 black Americans from the years 1932 to 1972. This study was done in Macon County. This paper will exclusively explore the critique the Miss Ever’s Boys film using ethical frameworks. The ethical framework includes beneficence, justice, and respect for persons, duty-based ethics, virtue-based ethics, and the right’s-based ethics. The paper will identify how the above listed ethical principles were or were not portrayed in the film. Analysis of the ethical frameworks
The concept of beneficence states that the welfare of the participants should be every researcher’s goal of any clinical trial. The movie “Miss Ever’s Boys”, the U.S. Public Health Service did not mind the welfare of the participants. To start with, this study was to study a sexually transmitted disease called syphilis but not to provide its cure. Before involving anyone in this study, the U.S. Public Health Service should have sought people consent with full explanation of the study to the participants. If U.S. Public Health Service minded the welfare of the people at all, they could have explained the study to the participants in order for them to choose whether they will be involved or not.
However since they knew the consequences of the study, the U.S. Public Health Service was afraid that the people will not participate since the study was not offering any cure at all. This is against the bioethics of medical practice that requires the beneficence concept to be respected in any clinical research. So basically, it will be right to say that beneficence ethical principle was not met in this film (Stripling, 2005). The concept of justice in research ethics requires that researchers need to make a fair selection of participants.
Therefore, there should be an ideal distribution of benefits and risks and benefits while conducting a clinical research. In the movie, “Miss Ever’s Boys”, only blacks were included in the study. The study recruited 600 black men and none white person. To start with, this was discrimination of the highest order. This means that only the black men were at the risk of dying, considering that they treated them with placebos. This means that only the black men’s lives were endangered while the bioethics requires that the risk to be distributed equally (B. Miss Evers Boys and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, 2013). Respect for persons means that people have a right to fully exercise their autonomy.
Here, people need to be given a chance to make their own choices. In the film, Miss Ever’s Boys, it is clear that the participants were not respected at all. The first show of disrespect was when the U.S. Public Health Service decided to conduct a study and lie to the participants that they were going to offer them cure to syphilis. The second disrespect shown was the discrimination in the study where only the blacks were selected. Lastly, the U.S. Public Health Service disrespected the participants knowing that it was dangerous.
Therefore, the respect for person ethical principle was not meet in the movie “Miss Ever’s Boys”. Duty-based ethics are based on duty or obligation. Kant argues that there are higher principles that are good in no matter the time, situation, or culture. Therefore, when faced with an ethical dilemma, it’s important to know that we have a duty to meet. In this movie, the U.S. Public Health Service was faced with a situation which was the rising prevalence of people suffering from syphilis. However, the U.S. Public Health Service had an obligation to meet which was to find the cure of the disease without necessarily having to put people through so much pain for 40 years.
One thing that was very sad was the fact that even after discovering that penicillin could cure syphilis; the U.S. Public Health Service did not give the sick black men. This led to the death of 160 people (B. Miss Evers Boys and the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, 2013). Virtue-based ethics helps us in deciding the necessary actions to take depending on the kind of person we want to be. Here, the recognition of human dignity is very important. All humans have a right which is either positive or negative.
The positive right means are those given to human beings while the negative rights are those human beings have and cannot be taken away from them. Human dignity was not considered in the movie “Miss Ever’s Boys”. The black men had a positive right which was respect of their lives. This positive right was taken away from them by the U.S. Public Health Service (Houser, 2012). It will be right to, therefore, say that the virtue-based ethics principle was not met in
this movie. Summary