Jan 22, 1997
OFFICER. The bill will be received and appropriately referred.
Madam President, if I approached any Senator here and I said,
did not know it, but the last time they went to the doctor or went to the hospital, your
wife or your husband or your daughter or your son became the subject of a medical
experiment that they were not even told about. They were given medicine, they were given
pills, they were given radiation, they were given something and were not even told about
this, were not even informed about it, yet they are under some experimental research that
might possibly do them harmmaybe some good will come out of it, but maybe it will do
them harm alsobut they do not know about it, people would laugh at that
and say that is ridiculous.
possibly happen in this country. Yet, that very situation is what this piece of
legislation is supposed to address. I have been in public life and have served this
country for many years.
Frankly, I do
not think too many things that I see surprise me anymore about our laws and about
Government. Three years ago, though, I began to learn about a gap in our legal system that
does truly concern me. In 1993 the Governmental Affairs Committee began to investigate the
cold war radiation experiments. These experiments are one of the unfortunate legacies of
the cold war, when our Government sponsored experiments involving radiation on our own
citizens without their consent. They did not even know the experiments were being run on
them. It was without their consent.
One of the
most infamous of these experiments took place in my own State of Ohio, when scores of
patients at the University of Cincinnati were subjected to large doses of radiation during
experimental treatments, without their consent, without their informed consent. During the
course of this investigation, I began to ask the question, what protections are in place
to prevent such abuses from happening again? What law prohibits experimenting on people
without their informed consent?
What I found,
when I looked into it, is there is no law on the books requiring that informed consent be
obtained. More important, I believe there is a need for such a law, as there continue to
be cases where this basic rightI do view it as a basic rightis abused. As I
started out, I would like to put this on a personal level for everyone of my colleagues.
You just think about your own family, your own son, your own daughter, or grandchildren
who might be, the next time they go to a doctor, the subject of some medical experiment
that they are not even told about. I do not think there can be many things more
un-American than that.