Real World Contemplations of Consent in Amnesty

While reading Butler’s short story Amnesty I kept seeing conflicts with experimenting on the human body and consent. Noah the protagonist of the story is kidnapped and experimented by aliens. Noah discusses the waves of experiments by aliens in which she states, “They killed some of us with experiments and dietary deficiency diseases and they poisoned others. By the time they (aliens) snatched me, they at least knew enough not to kill me by accident” (Butler, 602). As I read further I kept reading about the aliens’ malpractices on the humans. However, the aliens are not they only ones who wronged humans. The government has also caused conflict because they would torture, kill and imprison humans. Furthermore, the government has given children new identities to hide them from groups that want to harm, and or worship them.
As I finished the short story I saw that the publisher is John Hopkins University Press, which made me think of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which I am reading for my Intd 301 class. The book discusses how Lacks’ cells were taken without her known consent by head researcher George Gey and John Hopkins Hospital. The HeLa cells were the first human cells to be able to reproduce, and be tested frequently. John Hopkins made a revolutionary discovery in science, and made a lot of profit from Lacks’ cells. Yet, some of the Lacks family members still lack health care, and have not received reparations for the usage of Henrietta’s cells. Nonetheless, John Hopkins is still notorious for their malpractices, which is seen in the Lacks’ case, and in another case in Guatemala where hundreds of people were injected with STDs. We also have seen similar experiments in Tuskegee, which lasted until 1972. The short story Amnesty made me think of historically controversial consent experiments. Moreover, Amnesty overall made put the concept of consent in self-perspective, which I think Butler does well in Amnesty.

Here are the links to a radio telling of HeLa cells and STD experiment in Guatemala.

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