Does Informed Consent Truly Exist?

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By Dr. Mercola

Informed consent is a basic human right in which a person has the ability to voluntarily accept or reject a treatment or medical procedure, including use of pharmaceutical products, after being fully informed of all possible risks and benefits.  

“The most important goal of informed consent,” according to the University of Washington School of Medicine, “is that the patient has an opportunity to be an informed participant in her health care decisions.”

It seems a simple premise, but throughout history we’ve seen cases where informed consent was not only challenged but completely ignored — a trend that exists to this day.

In an era when your legal right to informed consent is increasingly under attack, it’s important to review some tragic historical mistakes and outright assaults on freedom and ensure that they’re not repeated.

For example, decisions made by judges sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court more than 100 years ago are still being used to control your health and ability to make voluntary decisions about accepting or rejecting vaccine risks for yourself or your minor child.

As Barbara Loe Fisher, president and co-founder of the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), put it, “The personal beliefs of Supreme Court judges may be reflected in the legal decisions they make — decisions that can have consequences for centuries.”

Lack of Informed Consent Exemplified by the Eugenics Movement

Adam Cohen is the author of the book “Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck,” which details the early 20th century eugenics movement, including the 1927 U.S. Supreme Court case of Buck v. Bellthat essentially legalized sterilization in the U.S. He spoke with NPR:1

“The first eugenics law in the United States was passed in Connecticut in 1895. And it was a law against certain kinds of marriages. They were trying to stop certain unfit people from reproducing through marriage.

It wasn’t really what they wanted, though, because they realized that people would just reproduce outside of marriage.

So their next idea was what they called segregation. The idea was to get people who were deemed unfit institutionalized during their reproductive years, particularly for women, keep them there, make sure that they didn’t reproduce.

… [Th]e problem was that it would be really expensive to segregate, institutionalize, the number of people the eugenicists were worried about … you couldn’t put 15 million people in institutions. They understood that it just wasn’t economically feasible. So their next idea was eugenic sterilization.

And that allowed for a model in which they would take people in to institutions, eugenically sterilize them, and then they could let them go because they were no longer a threat.

So that’s why eugenic sterilization really became the main model that the eugenicists embraced and that many states enacted laws to allow.”

Not only was the sterilization involuntary, but many times the women involved were not told they were being sterilized. They may have been told they were having an appendectomy instead so, as Cohen put it, “that just compounds the horror of the situation.”

The Tragic Supreme Court Ruling That Led to 70,000 Sterilizations

It seems unthinkable that a judge could deem a person unfit to procreate and then rule for that person to be forcibly sterilized, but this is a sad example of reality — and it occurred in the U.S.

In what is often described as one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever made, a ruling upheld a statute in the state of Virginia allowing mentally deficient “imbeciles” or “feebleminded” people to be sterilized. The case is the focus of Cohen’s book, and follows the so-called “test case” of Carrie Buck, which he described in detail to NPR.

While other states were already forcibly sterilizing residents, Virginia set up a test case to determine if doing so was constitutional.

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