2015, Multimedia + Performance

“Liberty and Justice for All”: A Reflection


Marnie Klein (NHS’18) first encountered the now-infamous Guatemala STD Experiments (1946-1948) in a class on bioethics with KIE Scholar Tom Beauchamp. American physicians intentionally infected a variety of vulnerable populations — prisoners, mental patients, prostitutes, orphans, school children — with sexually transmitted diseases without informed consent.

Klein explains, “While many subjects were treated with antibiotics, many were not, resulting in at least eighty deaths and countless infections both inside the study and in the larger population.”

Her multimedia piece vividly evokes the experiences of four victims of these experiments: a sex worker, a prisoner, an orphaned child, and a soldier, whose differing backgrounds raise intersecting and divergent moral dimensions of the case.

“Art allows us to talk about things that otherwise make us uncomfortable,” says Klein, “[making] bioethics tangible through stories.”



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