Childbirth with a Midwife

“My mama had us all at home in the same bed with the same midwife. There were ten of us and I was the last baby. We knew that midwife all our lives. She was a great big lady and she had a good sense a humor, always laughin’. When I got married, she told your grandpa, ‘You treat my girl right. Gladys is my baby too, and if I hear a you mistreatin’ my baby, I’m gonna come afta you.’” My grandma laughed aloud at this memory, her wrinkled face beaming.

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Children as Test Subjects

The National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research concluded in 1977 that children were an especially vulnerable population because they could not offer consent. Yet, children today are more likely to become research subjects now that federal policies begun in the mid-1990s have changed the face of the “typical research subject.”

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Childbirth can be Cruel

She had entered the hospital and been drugged, giving birth unconsciously. With her third child she went into labor two months early. One of the nurses had roughly pushed her onto the birthing bed, pinched her arm, and said in a callous, irritated voice, “You just couldn’t wait, could you?” It was the last thing anyone had uttered to her before she went under.

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Brain Surgery for Docility

From the 1960s through the early 1970s, disenchantment with the widespread use of tranquilizers fostered interest in brain surgery as an alternative to “quiet” patients. University of Mississippi neurosurgeon Orlando J. Andy, M.D., capitalized on this trend, performing many types of brain ablations, including thalamotomies (destruction of the thalamus, which controls emotions and analyzes sensations), on African American children as young as six who, he decided, were “aggressive” and “hyperactive”…Today, Andy is revered as a neurosurgical pioneer, one whose work was never challenged in his lifetime and who never suffered any disciplinary action

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Radioactive Experiments on Orphans

Vanderbilt University physicians administered radioactive cocktails to pregnant women in Nashville. The University of Chicago fed the radioactive elements strontium and cesium to 102 unwitting patients at state schools. One Dickensian institution, the Fernald School in Waltham, Massachusetts, added radioactive oatmeal to the menus of thirty orphans in a program sponsored by the AEC with the support of the Quaker Oats Company.

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