This is the question Susan Reverby considers in a post over at Wonders & Marvels. The author of, most recently, Examining Tuskegee: The Infamous Syphilis Study and Its Legacy writes:
In my most recent book, I had to explain: why did the doctors do it? Sometimes it is easy to answer this: all the men were black and poor, and almost all the doctors were white. Was this racism pure and simple? Or is this just scientific and governmental bureaucracy run amuck where having the power to do this just lets it go on and on?
Yes, of course, to these answers and then no.
Read Reverby’s full post here.