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Theme of Bioethics in Ball and Wolfe's (2017) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Movie Review Sample)


Double space , movie 1.) write the main theme 2.) write it is fiction or non fiction decipiction of society/ world as you know it pereceive it 3.) idenitify or relate content / focusus to any stream of thought


Theme of Bioethics in Ball and Wolfe's (2017) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Theme of Bioethics in Ball and Wolfe's (2017) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
For three decades, scientists had been looking for human cells that could be successfully multiplied outside the human body and much of their efforts failed until 1951, when doctors in the Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore collected a cancerous tissue sample from a colored woman, Henrietta Lacks, without her consent. Her tissue sample is significant as it allowed scientists to conduct tests on human cells repeatedly without running out of stock, thereby cutting experimentation costs and enhancing the validity of test results as they were done on human cells instead of animal counterparts. Since then, the samples had been distributed for free all over the world, although some pharmaceutical companies made millions out of the products developed from testing them on Lacks' cells. To avoid potential legal problems, the Hopkins administration decided to change Henrietta's name to Helen Lane and called her cells, HeLa. Although HeLa has been used to advance studies in cancer, polio, influence, AIDs, and other diseases, Lacks never got the proper credit or compensation. After learning about Lacks in school and pursuing a journalistic career, Rebecca Skloot investigated the life of Lacks and sought out her children. She usually interviewed Deborah Lacks, Henrietta Lacks' daughter, who was the most interested in learning more about her mother and angriest at the injustice her mother experienced only because she was black and poor. Skloot published The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in 2010, which was produced as a TV film in 2017 by Ball and Wolfe (2017). The main theme of the text is bioethics and its intersection with race and social class; moreover, as a non-fiction depiction of society, it exposes the social and economic implications of biobanking and bioslavery.
Before going over the theme of the film, it is important to know the background of bioethics and its main issues that are related to the movie. Bioethics refers to the ethics of medical and biological research. Due to the advent of stem cell research and cloning, bioethics is now at the forefront of both scientific inquiry and ethical debates. In reality though, despite advancements in cell research, several issues continue to hound biomedical studies. First is the issue of biobanking, or the preservation of human substances in banks, which is similar to what doctors and scientists did with HeLa. Up to now, uncertainty remains on the true ownership of these samples and the kind of consent that should be legally sufficient in protecting the rights of the owners (Caulfield & Murdoch, 2017, p. 1). In 2017, a revision of the U.S. Common Rule “explicitly endorses the use of broad consent in specific situations,” however, this does not address concerns of fairness and appropriateness (Caulfield & Murdoch, 2017, p. 1). Second, biobanking underlines the issue of right to control the research samples, benefits from research, and/or financial compensation for their contribution (Caulfield & Murdoch, 2017, p. 3). Third, people are concerned about the commercialization of human substances and its implication on the objectification of human life (Caulfield & Murdoch, 2017, p. 3). Finally, biobanking emphasizes issues of trust in the healthcare industry, privacy, and discrimination, particularly when genetic materials can yield intimate information about one's diseases as well as genetic and psychological risks, which can impact access to education, employment, insurance, and housing opportunities (Caulfield & Murdoch, 2017, pp. 3-4). These biobanking issues are all exhibited in The Immortal Life of ...

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