Re: “Descendants of woman misused by doctors speak at USM on medical ethics” (Oct. 13):

A conversation on the history of racist medicine is a timely topic for Maine medical students. As immigrant populations grow in Maine, physicians must understand the historical and repeated violence against people of color in medicine to avoid repeating it. Many historical examples of medical research conducted without the patient’s consent exist, and Henrietta Lacks’ experience is not an anomaly.

Lacks’ story is a horrifying example of this violence, a scenario no one wishes to repeat. However, the call by her great-granddaughter Veronica Robinson and grandson Alfred Carter for students to “not repeat the mistakes” is not frivolous. Maine’s growing racial diversity means students must be educated about how to proactively fight the racial inequalities in medical care.

I hope students took away from Carter’s and Robinson’s talk that understanding ethics is not enough. To provide competent care, they must understand the structures that allow medicine to benefit from people’s bodies without their consent.

Emma Dolan


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