Remarks by the President in Apology for Study Done in TuskegeeAuthor: Bill Clinton
Source: US National Archives and Records Administration (Link)
Date: 16 May 1997
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Document Type: Original Source
|Donor: United States||Event Date: ca. 1932-1972|
|Recipient: Victims of Tuskgee Syphilis Experiment||Reparation Date: 16 May 1997|
From 1932-1972, a U.S. Public Health Service-funded study group conducted an examination of the effects of syphilis on 400 African-American sharecroppers in Tuskegee, Alabama. The patients in the study were not informed that they had syphilis, and, early in the study, were treated with a variety of experimental techniques. In 1947, by which point penicillin had become the standard treatment for syphilis, all treatments were withheld from patients so as to allow the experimenters to observe the progression of the disease. The study was terminated in 1972, when the Washington Star and the New York Times published articles based on interviews with a PHS venereal disease inspector.
By the time the study was terminated, 128 patients had died of syphilis or related complications, 40 wives of patients had been infected with the disease, and 19 children of patients had been born with congenital syphilis.
A memorial and centre for bioethics was established at the Booker T. Washington School in Tuskegee; the government funded postgraduate fellowships to train bioethicists, particularly those from minority groups; and the National Bioethics Advisory Commission's charter was extended until October 1999.
The text of President Bill Clinton's apology to the 8 surviving patients of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment and to the families of the deceased. In his speech, Clinton offered a five-step process to help ensure that unethical clinical behaviour would not be repeated.
The public response to the Tuskegee Syphilis Study led to the establishment of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioural Research.