How do you think Henrietta's experiences with the medical system would have been different had she been a white woman? What about Elsie's fate?
Join Date: 10/11/10
Join Date: 05/10/11
Join Date: 05/19/11
I agree with Marthad. I think the fact that Henrietta was both poor and uneducated allowed the medical community to take advantage of her. The same is true with them letting her daughter think she had cancer too in order to get her cooperation. Of course, this did backfire somewhat with the black community's fear of Johns Hopkins.
Join Date: 05/10/11
Join Date: 07/16/11
From what was described in the book, it sounded that Henrietta was quickly and correctly diagnosed once she went to Johns Hopkins. She was given the standard treatment for advanced cervical cancer at the time. Of course she was treated in a patronizing manner (unacceptable today for anyone!), but she was not denied access to proper medical treatment based on the color of her skin.
Join Date: 07/16/11
While Henrietta received "standard" treatment (and now that treatment seems barbaric), I think that because she was African American, she was treated less kindly, less gently, with less respect, and with less compassion than a white counterpart would have received. They did not respect her intelligence and explained nothing to her. Her fatalism came, I think, from a lifetime of this kind of indifference and racism.
Join Date: 04/09/11
While I'm sure the color of her skin had a lot to do with her treatment, I think her poverty and lack of education had more of a direct affect. She and her family simply didn't know what questions to ask, and like a lot of people in that era, figured the doctors would do what was best.
Join Date: 07/17/11
Barb W is right on the nose. I also believe that John Hopkins felt entitled to collect any data or tissue samples for research because the medical treatment was given for free. The fact that they did not inform Henrietta or later, the Lacks family, that they did so was unconscionable, but sadly, reflective of the mores of the time. My guess is that all poor persons receiving care for free were treated similarly. Most likely, the majority of these patients at the time happened to be black.
Join Date: 06/14/11
Join Date: 07/18/11
This is a really good question! I agree with several other people here who've mentioned her socioeconomic status, but you also have to take into account her level of education and the fact that she probably didn't know what questions to ask. I believe that a white woman of the same socioeconomic status, lack of education and lack of understanding of the level of information available would have been in the same boat. Considering the time period and the location, there's no doubt at all that had she been white and middle or upper class, with a broader range of knowledge, things may have been different.
Join Date: 05/21/11
Of course her color effected the way she was treated by the medical system! I was horrified by what I read. Neither her color, SES or education should be a factor in the treatment she received. The time period and location certainly explains some of what happened but it doesn't excuse it. And, thankfully we have seen changes. Is it enough? But then, I believe everyone has the right to health care in our country regardless of race or SES. I wish I could be certain that people don't experience similar treatment today. We have learned that we need to be our own advocate in the health care system. If we are unable to do so should our care be less than adequate?
Join Date: 04/23/11
I do believe that her treatment was affected by her race as well as SES. I was appalled by how they had not informed that she would no longer be able to have children before the treatment.
I'm not that far into the book so I don't know what else happened to Elsi beyond being put in a "crazy" hospital. But for that, I don't know if there would have been any better option for a poor white mother either.
Join Date: 07/04/11
I believe her experience would have been entirely different if she were white. It is really horrible to think what she and her family went through because they were poor and black. I'm not sure if poor, uneducated people of any race would be treated much better. It's very sad
Join Date: 07/25/11
Join Date: 04/20/11
At that time and place, and as others have said, her socio-economic status, my answer must be yes. However, while improvements have been made, I fear that even today she would, in many places, still be treated differently than a white, middle class patient. This is not to say that white people of poor socio-economic status, would also be treated poorly. While race is still a factor in such things today, I believe that being poor and under educated are even more of a barrier to adequate treatment many times for our sick citizens.
Join Date: 06/15/11
Given the era this occurred I think she would have been treated differently overall, but I don't believe they would have given a white woman any different treatment re any type of compensation long term for her cells.
I think being a woman hurt her chances for being taken seriously in her claims as much as her being black. The real question is: would her experiences with the medical system been different if she had been a white male.
Join Date: 08/11/11
Privacy issues were not often challenged during this time period. I think scientists didn't often and still don't see tissue specimens as belonging to that person. However, I do think she would have been honored in this day and age. I think race has little to do with the will of science.
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