The Moral and Legal Obligations of Breast Implants
In a world that revolves around impressions, many people that it is very important to look your best at all times. We are constantly seeing images of the perfect body . From Barbie to Baywatch, American women are constantly being shown images of girls with eighteen inch waists, thirty two inch hips and a D cup chest. Feeling as if they need to achieve this image to be attractive, women flock to the exercise gym in large numbers. They spend two hours a day exercising to achieve that tiny waistline that they desire. They are not satisfied with the chest that God gave them so they also want to alter this aspect of their body. In the past, women did chest exercises to enhance their bustline. As they got smarter, they realized that all that they were doing is enlarging the muscle and in fact minimizing their bustline. In today s age of technology, scientist have developed a way to surgically inhance the size of women s bustlines. By surgically inserting silicone bags into the breast, women everywhere had the opportunity to achieve the most desirable bustline. A surgery originally intended for reconstructive purposes, by 1990 eighty percent of all implants were for cosmetic reasons. This dream surgery quickly turned into a nightmare. With reports of leaky and ruptured bags, the number of new surgeries began to drop. Women took it upon themselves to have tests done to see if these ruptured bags were in any way shape or form dangerous to their health. Allegations were made that the implants were responsible for muscle and joint pain, weight loss, and fatigue along with several severe autoimmune disorders. The patients were not happy with the unexpected side effects of his surgery and combined their legal resources and made several class action suits against Dow Chemical, the manufacturer of the silicone implants. Is the manufacturer responsible for the illness that their product caused upon the patients? I feel that they are responsible for the side effects caused by the implants. The side effects caused severe turmoil in the lives of many women; someone has to be responsible. Since the side effects were unknown to the women prior to the surgery, it should be Dow Chemicals responsibility to compensate the patients for their troubles.
II. The Case For the Thesis
Many women have experienced numerous health problems as a result of their breast augmentation surgeries. From rheumatoid arthritis to severe weight loss, they have been through severe pain. It is even rumored that silicone from the ruptured implant will remain trapped inside the fibrous capsule of the scar tissue. The trauma occurred by the patients with ruptured implants was very severe, and someone should be reliable for the pain and suffering of the patients. Due to the fact that the manufacturer put their product on the market without performing suffienct safety tests, I feel that it is the responsibility of the company to compensate the women for their pain as a result of the inefficiency of the manufacturer, Dow Chemical.
There are several moral obligations that a company has to its customers. The one deals with safety and warranties. The business should give safety the priority warranted by the product. Many companies put cost above safety in their quest to manufacture a new product. If the margin of safety can be increased without severely decreasing the budget, then they take safety into consideration. If considering safety requires a large part of their budget to be dilapidated, then the company will more than likely disregard safety considerations. This is the case with Dow Chemical. There was an increasing market for an artificial human breast and Dow Chemical wanted to be the company who reaped the benefits of this demand. In a race to get the augmentation surgery on the market first, the company was lax in the preparatory stages of the product development. The did not care much for safety or efficiency, they just wanted to start selling their implants. Because of their hastiness, the company overlooked such variables as the effect of silicone on the body and the lifetime of the bag that the silicone was stored in. Because these variables were overlooked, many people suffered and as a result they have to be compensated. It is only logical that the manufacturer be responsible for the damages that were brought upon the patient as a result of the hastiness of the company.
III. Case Against the Thesis
The Dow Chemical Company feels that they are not responsible for the punitive damages inflicted amongst the patients. First and foremost, when the product appeared on the market 1978 it was classified by the FDA as a Class II device. This meant that they did not need testing to stay on the market. They were legally able to sell their product without testing it for any known health concerns. With the increase of surgeries, in 1989, the implants were was upgraded to a Class III device, meaning that all manufacturers must submit safety and efficiency data in order to continue using the silicone implants in breast augmentation surgeries. Dow Chemical complied with this new regulation and the FDA advisory panel concluded that they were not a major threat to human health. Since the FDA concluded that it could not majority hurt any human then the manufacturer should not be responsible for the damages put upon the consumer.
Secondly, it has been complained that there is a lack of hard core scientific data. Without this data, it is almost impossible to determine the difference between coincidence and causation. How can it be determined that the side effects were the direct result of the silicone implants if there is no data to say that the implants are the only possible source of the health problems. Without this information, the manufacturing company should not be responsible for the retribution caused by the health problems. Another objection by the manufacturer is that they never said that their product was one hundred percent fail free. There is always a chance that the company could make a mistake and something could go wong. If there should be an occurrence within thesis slim chance, it was an accident and was never guaranteed that it wouldn t happen. This allows the responsibility burden to be lifted off of the shoulders of the company and on to the shoulders to the consumers themselves. In short, the companies are saying that there is a disclaimer involved in the operation.
The company is wrong in its theory of why it is not responsible for the damages caused by the ruptured breast implants. Though the FDA classified implants as a Class II devise, not requiring testing, it is still the responsibility of the company to make sure that they are not endangering human lives by the use of their product. The FDA concluded that thie procedure is not a major threat. Major– that is the key word. It is a threat and as a result, the company should be responsible for the damages. A human is a very special creation from God and its life should not be taken lightly. The company was only thinking of themselves and their money when they put this product on the market. They should ask themselves if they would let their daughter put this in their body. If they would have done this, they would have never put their product on the market. Regarding the fact that the lack hard core evidence illeviates the company from all responsibility, that is an unwarranted judgement. Hard core facts are necessary but with such great numbers of women who all have the same symptoms and who nothing else in common except their breast implants, the only logical explanation for their symptoms is the explosion of the implants. Silicone is in no way good for the body. Hard core evidence or not, it is not right to make the patients suffer without compensation. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to provide just compensation. Lastly, they are exactly right the implants were not one hundred percent fail free. There is always a margin of error. Were the comanies went wrong is that they did not tell the consumer that they were not one hundred percent fail free, therefore they have a moral obligation towards the patient. If they would have told the patient that there was a health risk involved in their procedure then they would have been able to remove the burden of responsibility from their shoulders. It is obvious that the manufacturer, Dow Chemical, is the one responsible for repaying patients for damages caused by ruptured breast implants. It is not right that the patients were misinformed as to the possibility of failure and as a result the should be compensated.
The United States has recently experienced a huge influx in cosmetic surgery, the bulk of the surgeries being preformed on the chest. Many of these surgeries were successful but not all of them. Many resulted in ruptured bags and silicone leakage. This leakage caused several health problems. The women who experienced these problems deserve to be compensated. A problem arises when it is time to decide who is responsible. Throughout this debate, the responsibility has been discussed. It has been concluded that it should be the responsibility of the implant manufacturer to appropriate compensate the patient for her inconvenience. Throughout the past years, several class action lawsuits have arised. Though the results did not come out to be one hundred percent on way, the overwhelming majority of the juries say that the sole burden of responsibility belongs on the manufacturing company. Women have come to realize that it would be nice to have the figure of Barbie. But is it worth the risk of the possible side effects, I think not.