The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Reflection
Rebecca Skloot’s novel, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, addresses many important issues. The issues explored in this book are mainly about Hela cells, racial equality and bioethics. Skloot examines many of these topics throughout her novel, but the most important issues I think stuck in my mind most would have to be bioethics and racial equality. I felt that these two issues were the most important because these issues are still important today. Regarding the issue of racial equality, Skloot’s novel talks about the bad past the United States had with racism. Back then, when there were Jim Crow laws, blacks and whites did not get along with one another. All public and private facilities were segregated. Often in the South, you would find signs that said either “white only” or “colored not allowed”. Henrietta was a black woman who couldn’t pay for her medical care. As a result of her need to see a doctor, she had to travel to John Hopkins “because [it] was the only major hospital for miles that treated black patients” (15). To the whites, her cells were treated as a payment. Then regarding the issue of bioethics, the book questions what scientists think are ethical in scientific research. Skloot includes many controversial events in science in her novel to show the gradual growth the United States took in standardizing its bioethical studies and system. The standardized system we have today was largely influenced by how much Hela cells as well as other events in science brought forth change for it.
Today, there is still racism and issues regarding what are seen as ethical. Racism is a major issue that has long been a controversy for the United States. In Henrietta’s time, blacks were treated as inferior. They weren’t allowed to use the nice facilities that the whites used. Every day they had to be ridiculed by the white race for the color of their skin. Henrietta didn’t have the money to...