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Maternal Mortality, Population Control, and the War in Women's Wombs: A Bioethical Analysis of Quinacrine Sterilizations

50 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2010  

Judith A.M. Scully

Stetson University College of Law

Date Written: 2001

Abstract

The drug quinacrine hydrochloride was developed to treat and prevent diseases such as malaria, giardiasis, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. However, despite not being approved for the use of sterilization by any government agency in the world, quinacrine has been promoted as a low cost, effective, and safe method for sterilizing poor and politically powerless women in developing countries. To date more than 100,000 women in developing countries have already been chemically sterilized with quinacrine. This article provides an historical account on the use of quinacrine as a sterilization agent and examines how three international codes of ethics governing human experimentation have been violated yet, have marginal utility in this case as they are either unenforceable or historically unenforced. Moreover, to shed further light on the nature of the quinacrine campaign, the author discusses how the campaign violates three generally accepted principles of bioethics – autonomy, beneficence/non-maleficence, and distributive justice. The article concludes, that since the quinacrine campaign does not conform to any of these basic bioethical principles, it should be denounced as an unethical and unacceptable medical experiment.

Keywords: Quinacrine, chemical sterilization, female sterilization, bioethics, international law, autonomy, distributive justice

Suggested Citation

Scully, Judith A.M., Maternal Mortality, Population Control, and the War in Women's Wombs: A Bioethical Analysis of Quinacrine Sterilizations (2001). Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 19, No. 2, 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1646119

Judith A. M. Scully

Stetson University College of Law ( email )

1401 61st Street South
Gulfport, FL 33707
United States
727-562-7382 (Phone)

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