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PHARAOH'S .MAGICIANS: THE ETHICS AND EFFICA:CY OF HUMAN FETAiL TISSUE TRANSPLANTS ROBERT BARRY, O.P. Program for the Study of Religion University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana DARREL KESLER Department of Animal Sciences University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. IN RECENT YEARS increasing attention ha;s been given to v:rurious types of scientific riese,arch involving the human fetus. In the 1970s, :a tremendous amount of concern was expres1 sed IJ.'egiaroing the fetus ,a;.s a rSU!bject of e~erimenrtation. In this debate, the announced " research impeiiat:i:ve " was pos,ed against other moral imperativ;es.1 Following much soctiet :JaJl drebarte, protootlive meiaisumeis 1 WeIDe il!dopited 1by oompireihensive regiutatiions in 1975 estaiblishiing protections foT a number of research sUibjects. These regulrutions protect the fetus from non-beneficiail experimentation. that iworuild pose more than minima;l risk rto the fetus. Current debates in science and ethics now swirl arlOiund a new topic regarding human '.fetal life: the fetus as a sourrce of tissue for triansplaintation into other persons ais run e~erimental thempy. It is an issue that is rapidly moving torward the same Jevel of" research imperative" as did the earlier debate on the 1 See Paul Ramsey, The Ethics of Fetal Research (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1975): "Today one often hears statements like' Fetal Research must be done,' or 'It would be immoral not to do this research'" (P. xv). The validity of such opinions and utterances entirely depends on a netbenefits ethics, and the validity of that moral universe has been called increasingly into question in recent years. 575 576 ROBERT BARRY, O.P. AND DARREL KESLER ~etus as subject. Recently, ,a new level of intensity was added to this deharte rby the imposition of an indefinite moratorium on federal support for research on transplantrution experiments inv;olving human .fetirul tissue and other !humans. 1Thls " :indefinite moratorium " w1as a result of a process that 1 began with research p110posaJs considered rby the National In- 'stituites of Health (NIH) in October 1987. In Marich 1988 a momtorium wa;g plaioed on the r:eseareh, and an 1advisory panel was summoned to consider the ethical issues involved. This panel presented 1a cveoommendation for the procedures. However , the Secretary of the Department of Health and Ruman Se1wfoes (HHS), Dr. Louis Sullivan, decided against the research proposal on etmcal grounds. His decision w:as with the 'concU'l'Tenoe of the Assistant Secretary :£m.· Health of HHS, Dr. James Mason, who has Tespons~bility for the NIH. Secretary SulliV1an's decision was oommumcarted to the Acting Director of the NIH, Dr. William Raub, in Nov,ember 1989. A :firestorm of criticism erupted from ,rudv;ocates of this research, including the Council of Judicial and Ethical Affairs of tihe American Medical Association, which 5.n June 1989 called for an end to the:ban.2 In this article, we wish to question both the science and the ethics of the rproposed fotal tissue transplantation therapy. We !Will 1support the £edeml funding moratorium and surggest new pmtections for the fetuses (whether po,ssibly living or de2 " Medical Applications of Fetal Tissue Transplantation", JAMA, Vol. 263, No. 4, January 26, 1990, 'PP· 565-570. There has been a .great deal of public debate, not only in the U.S. but also in Europe over whether human embryo research should be supported with public funds. Many Catholic countries in Europe have prohibited such research, while a number of other nations have allowed it. Dickson, D., "Europe Split on Embyro Research", Science, Vol. 242, November 21, 1988, pp. 1117-1118. The most interesting controversy is in West Germany where there is a strong movement to prohibit it because many there believe such an experimentation requires judgments that there are certain forms of human life that do not deserve to survive. Ibid., p. 1117. Many Germans regard these sorts of judgments as too close to those made by Nazis, and there is strong sentiment to prohibit such research altogether. Ibid. HUMAN FETAL TISSUE TRANSPLANTS 577 oea:sed) of elective a.bortfons. We will also describe new reseaooh directions in t~apy .for the diseases in which it is claimed that fetal...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 575-607
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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