Victims Applaud Moral Findings in Bioethics Commission Report, which Strengthens Case for Legal Accountability

Sep 14, 2011, 10:53 ET from Conrad & Scherer LLP

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues publicly released the results of its investigation into the non-consensual human medical experimentation in Guatemala at issue in the class action case filed in the District Court for the District of Columbia by Conrad & Scherer, LLP, along with Parker Waichman Alonso LLP. The report, entitled "Ethically Impossible: STD Research in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948" reviews the intentional infection of Guatemalan citizens with STDs until 1948 and the serological studies that continued through 1953.  

The report confirms that there were medical and legal standards in place at the time of the experiments and that the U.S. medical team involved knew that they were violating those standards.  The report recognizes that "[o]btaining informed consent of subjects is a cornerstone ethical requirement." And the report reaches the moral conclusion "that such reprehensible exploitation of our fellow human beings [must never be] repeated."

Terrence Collingsworth, partner at Conrad & Scherer, LLP, states: "We applaud the Commission for its thorough review of these horrific experiments and agree with the conclusions it draws in the context of socially and ethically responsible medicine. But from a legal perspective, the most important point here is one that the Commission noted but did not emphasize:  the medical team's goal in conducting the experiments in Guatemala was to avoid legal accountability. We cannot allow that to happen."

Piper Hendricks, associate at Conrad & Scherer, LLP, adds: "While we agree with many of the Commission's conclusions, we must remember that there were over 5,000 human beings involved in the experiments, including 1,308 who were exposed to STDs, many of whom passed the disease along to spouses and family members. There are an untold number of people still suffering today as a result and they must not be forgotten. There was no question then that they were wronged and there is no question now that we must strive to do right."

Non-consensual human medical experimentation is an internationally-recognized human rights violation, as the Second Circuit recently outlined in Abdullahi v. Pfizer, 562 F.3d 163 (2d Cir. 2009).

The Plaintiffs in the case are the former soldiers, orphans, prisoners, mental health patients, prostitutes and others in Guatemala who were purposefully infected with venereal diseases or otherwise experimented upon without consent, or their heirs and the family members who were also impacted.  

For further information or to inquire as a potential plaintiff, please contact:

In the United States: Conrad & Scherer LLP:  Terrence Collingsworth or Piper Hendricks at (202) 543-4001

In Guatemala: Rudy Zuniga de Leon at 502 54 01 85 56

SOURCE Conrad & Scherer LLP