Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion op­pos­ing bid for syphilis study mu­seum

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion op­poses a bid to use un­claimed money from a le­gal set­tle­ment over the gov­ern­ment’s in­fa­mous Tuskegee syphilis study to fund a mu­seum hon­or­ing vic­tims of the re­search project. The Jus­tice De­part­ment ar­gued in court doc­u­ments re­cently that pro­vid­ing the money to the Tuskegee Hu­man and Civil Rights Mul­ti­cul­tural Cen­ter would vi­o­late an agree­ment reached in 1975 to set­tle a class-ac­tion law­suit. For the study, hun­dreds of black men suf­fer­ing from the sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­ease were al­lowed to go un­treated for decades so doc­tors could an­a­lyze the pro­gres­sion of the ill­ness.

The gov­ern­ment said that it “does not in­tend in any way to jus­tify, con­done, or de­fend the Tuskegee Syphilis Study,” but al­low­ing re­main­ing money from a $9 mil­lion set­tle­ment to be used for the mu­seum would vi­o­late the set­tle­ment’s orig­i­nal pro­vi­sion that any left over money go back to the gov­ern­ment. Fred Gray, a civil rights at­tor­ney who rep­re­sented men in the study and made the fund­ing re­quest in 2016, de­clined com­ment on the gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion.

US Dis­trict Judge My­ron Thomp­son held a tele­phone con­fer­ence on the re­quest on May 30, records show, but hasn’t ruled yet. Start­ing in 1932 and con­tin­u­ing for four decades, gov­ern­ment med­i­cal work­ers oper­at­ing in ru­ral, seg­re­gated Alabama with­held treat­ment from un­sus­pect­ing black men in­fected with syphilis so doc­tors could track the dis­ease and dis­sect their bod­ies af­ter­ward.

Re­vealed by The As­so­ci­ated Press in 1972, the study ended and the men sued, re­sult­ing in the set­tle­ment ne­go­ti­ated by Gray on be­half of the vic­tims, all of whom have died. The men wanted to be re­mem­bered in a memo­rial that told their story, Gray said in court doc­u­ments, and a county-owned his­tory mu­seum that al­ready in­cludes ex­hibits about the study could use the “rel­a­tively small” amount of un­claimed money. The men’s names are em­bla­zoned in a cir­cle on the floor of the mu­seum, which only opens dur­ing the sum­mer be­cause of fund­ing short­ages.

The Jus­tice De­part­ment said send­ing the money to the mu­seum would “fun­da­men­tally al­ter the terms of the agree­ment.” Days af­ter the gov­ern­ment made its ar­gu­ment in le­gal doc­u­ments, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions is­sued a memo bar­ring third-party or­ga­ni­za­tions from re­ceiv­ing money from set­tle­ments in­volv­ing the gov­ern­ment. — AFP

TUSKEGEE, Alabama: In this photo an uniden­ti­fied man walks past the Tuskegee Hu­man and Civil Rights Mul­ti­cul­tural Cen­ter in Tuskegee.—AP

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