January 18

1976: Gerald Ford Executive Order prohibits non-consensual experiments

Among other matters, it prohibited “experimentation with drugs on human subjects, except with the informed consent, in writing and witnessed by a disinterested third party, of each such human subject and in accordance with the guidelines issued by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects for Biomedical and Behavioral Research.”

Subsequent Executive Orders by Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan expanded the directive to apply to all human experimentation: “No agency within the Intelligence Community shall sponsor, contract for, or conduct research on human subjects except in accordance with guidelines issued by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. The subject’s informed consent shall be documented as required by those guidelines.”


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