The San Antonio Contraceptive Study: Exploitation in Reproductive Rights

Briar Patch

These articles discuss a study that was conducted in 1970 on unknowing, poor Mexican American women that related human experimentation with reproductive rights.  The study was conducted in San Antonio and consisted of 86 women.  They were told that they were going to be receiving birth control pills and these women, many that came from Planned Parenthood, agreed.  What was unknown to them at the time was the fact that half way through the experiment, half of the women were going to be given a placebo pill with no hormones at all.  This change was without them knowing and without any of them consenting to this change.  This led to 10 of the women in this study ending up with unexpected children.

This study is reminiscent of many of the themes that are evident in the other sources we have discussed.  First, the fact that this experiment was done on poor Mexican American women.  This exploitation of the lower class and immigrants is clearly the doctors way of getting away with experimenting with such a thing like birth control.  This would never have been acceptable if it was performed on someone from the upper class.  By exploiting the fact that they were poor and needed to go somewhere like planned parenthood to receive their birth control, the doctor was able to satisfy his curiosity of what was going to happen when birth control was stopped. Second, this is evident on how many doctors did not view these women as their equals.  They saw as something to perform experiments on, nothing more.  It was even more shocking because it was clear what the outcome of this study was going to be, and it was still done with no thought on what effects it was going to have on the individuals who were wrongfully tricked into participating.

Many of the other sources discussed in the seminar have had horrific things done in the name of science and medicine.  Most of them benefited some person, mostly the people who did not have to undergo the procedure.  However, this experiment did not bring about any new information to science or medicine.  Rather, a doctor wanted to see what would happened in, in turn, led these unsuspecting and non consenting women to a future they could not have expected.

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