Carte Blanche

Carte Blanche
The Erosion of Medical Consent

“Urgent, alarming, riveting, and essential.” – Ibram X. Kendi

Carte Blanche relates an alarming reality—how the right of Americans to say “no” to risky medical research is being systematically eroded. For decades, medical research has been legally conducted on trauma victims—who often are people of color—without their consent, or even their knowledge.

Harriet A. Washington, the author of Medical Apartheid, again exposes a large-scale violation of patient, civil, and human rights. In 1990, the Department of Defense forced an experimental anthrax vaccine on ground troops headed for the Persian Gulf. After two 1996 loopholes to federal law permitted research to be conducted even on private citizens, the military quietly used the dangerous blood substitute PolyHeme on non-consenting victims. Since then, more than a dozen studies have used the consent loopholes to impose risky and potentially deadly drugs and devices on research subjects without their knowledge, especially in people of color, many of whom were already justifiably distrustful of documented racial bias in medicine. Carte Blanche is an exposé of a U.S. medical-research system that has repeatedly shown that it is untrustworthy.



This book is published with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.




Carte Blanche
  • ISBN: 978-1734420722
  • Price: $15.99
  • E-Book price: $15.99
  • E-book ISBN: 978-1734420739
  • On Sale: February 23, 2021
  • Pages: 184

Advance Praise

“Urgent, alarming, riveting, and essential, Carte Blanche reveals that Americans, including African Americans, are still being medically experimented upon without their consent—yet again in research sanctioned by law. Harriet Washington’s powerful indictment of ongoing medical coercion unveils a gross violation of our human rights. It is vital reading at a moment when change is so necessary.”
Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist and Stamped From the Beginning


"An alarming indictment of exploitative medical research....Reprising evidence that she presented in Medical Apartheid (2007), Washington underscores her argument that African Americans historically have been victimized by researchers....An enlightening and well-supported examination of shocking malfeasance."
Kirkus Reviews

About the author

Harriet A. Washington
© Aaron Mayes

Harriet A. Washington is the author of Medical Apartheid, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Oakland Award, and the American Library Association Black Caucus Nonfiction Award. She has been a research fellow in medical ethics at Harvard Medical School, a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University, and the recipient of a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University. She lectures in bioethics at Columbia University. Her books also include A Terrible Thing to Waste and Infectious Madness. Follow her at @haw95.




Upcoming Event

Virtual Event: Harriet Washington + Carl Elliott | Politics and Prose

Virtual Event: Harriet Washington + Carl Elliott | Politics and Prose

Friday, March 5, 2021
6:00pm — 7:00pm

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