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Through A Narrow Chink An Ethical DilemmaIn 1951 Carl Djerassi with the Mexican pharmaceutical company Syntex developed the first oral contraceptive by synthesizing and altering the natural hormone Progesterone into a superpotent highly effective oral progestational hormone called norethindrone Admittedly the dynamics and importance of this find were astounding since before this the only means of contraception was abortion and even that was not legalized at the time The race to produce this synthetic agent was highly competitive being sought after by many pharmaceuticals throughout the world and for a small fledgling company in Mexico of all places to find it first only added to the excitement of the achievement Yet aside from all this excitement and competitive fervor something great and disturbing was being bypassed Science in my view had done something great without looking into the possibilities of where this would lead I believe Djerassi similar to most scientists of his day was so entranced by the excitement of synthesizing his product and achieving his goal that he did not stop to think of the ramifications of his accomplishment The ethical dilemma was not explored before hand and this to me is the great tragedy of most scientific discovery since I firmly believe each scientist is responsible for that which he creates Djerassi does confront a few questions of ethics and morality after the fact On page 61 in chapter 6 he reflects on the argument of the use of poor Mexican and Puertorrican women for preliminary experiments Is this just another manifestation of exploitation of the poorDjerassi says absolutely not Yes the poor our the initial guinea pigs for research but this is no different from what dentists barbers and young surgeons do All of these groups use the poor to hone their skills not because of the poor womens ignorance but because middle class suburbanite white women are unlikely to volunteer their services for the sake of science My main problem
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