Abortion Essay Research Paper Fetal tissue research

Abortion Essay, Research Paper Fetal tissue research is the process of using fetal tissue, derived from legal abortions, for scientific research into fundamental biological processes and

Abortion Essay, Research Paper

Fetal tissue research is the process of using fetal tissue, derived from legal

abortions, for scientific research into fundamental biological processes and

human development. In addition, transplantation research uses fetal tissue to

study potential treatment of life treating diseases. Recent legislation

attempting to allow federal funding for stem cell research, a form of fetal

tissue research, has caused this subject to be drawn into debate.

Fetal tissue research often is morally and ethically controversial in that it is

confused with the issues of abortion. Many people try to justify their position

on fetal tissue research by proving or disproving the humanity of the fetus;

however, in this paper I plan to give the fetus the benefit of the doubt by

giving it the status of a full-fledged person. This allows for the elimination

of any issues associated with the morality of the abortion and allows for the

separation from the equivocal points involved in the abortion debate. I also

intend to only deal with the problems affiliated with consciously aborted

fetuses. This is due to the fact that, generally, researchers deal less with

spontaneously aborted fetuses and stillbirth fetuses because they are often

associated with genetic defects. I intend to argue that fetal tissue research

is a morally legitimate standpoint.

By accepting the assumption that fetuses are persons then abortion would be a

form of murder. If killing innocent persons is murder and fetuses, according to

the assumption, are persons; then killing fetuses is murder. Hence, it must

follow that in order for research on aborted fetal tissue to be proven as

morally admissible; then research on murdered person’s tissue must also be

proven admissible. The following is a situation where research on murdered

person’s tissue is comparable to that on aborted fetal tissue:

Suppose that twenty-five year old persons (verses fetuses) were found to possess

cells that the scientific community believed might have a beneficial effect on

humanity. While trying to study these cells the scientists came across a

problem. They found themselves unable to perform research on the individuals

because the tests that they needed to perform in their research caused an

instant death to its subjects. Nonetheless, they found themselves able to

perform the tests on persons that were previously dead. They started a program

where they attained murdered bodies of twenty-five year olds that have gone

unclaimed in order to perform research on them.

In our society would the scientists’ program be morally sound? The answer lies

in the rights of the person who has been murdered. If the murdered persons were

to maintain any rights (e.g. life, liberty and the pursuit of land) then the

scientists’ rights to research would be out weighed (lest the individual allowed

the research). What rights can murdered persons (i.e. aborted fetuses) have that

would outweigh any scientific claims to their bodies?

The one right that is possibly entitled to deceased people is the right to

funerary service. Throughout time the principle pertaining to the preservation

of funeral rights has become quasi-archetypal for modern culture. Some cultures,

such as ancient Greeks, have even gone as far as to claim that these rights

should be held higher than that of life itself. If this were the case, then a

deceased persons right to a funeral would outweighs any scientific claim

associated with the research of his/her body. This would cause the scientists to

not be morally justified in the creation of their program above.

In reality, murdered, lifeless individuals do not possess the right to a

funeral. They, in actuality, do not possess any rights at all. The reason for

this is as follows: in order to have rights you must also have the will to

execute those rights. E.g. in order to have the right to bear firearms you must

be able to choose whether or not you are going to bear arms. Inanimate objects

such as aborted fetal tissue are not able to have rights. Take a painting, an

obvious in animate object, for example. Does it have a right to any thing

connected with it? Throughout the greater part of western civilization paintings

have been given frames. This fact may lead you to believe that paintings do have

the right to a frame. On the contrary, a painting, in order to possess any

right, must be able to behave in accordance with its choices or wills. They must

be able to choose a frame according to their desire in order to maintain the

right to a frame. In other words a painting must contain a Freedom of

Voluntariness in order to retain a right to a frame; however it is absurd that

any inanimate object possess this freedom, as it is a right held only by

persons. It would follow that a dead person, someone who is void of all criteria

pertaining to person-hood, also would not possess this freedom and, therefore,

would not be able to hold rights.

Going to an art gallery, it seems to be absurd that all of the paintings have

elaborate frames. Who or what, then, maintains the will and then the right to be

able to endow artwork with intricate frames? The obvious answer would be the

owners. They have the freedom to act in accordance with a choice to frame the


If it is the owners who have the right to frame a picture then who has the right

to a funeral? Similar to the case with artwork, it would be the owners, but

defining the owner of a once living individual is slightly more difficult than

defining the owner of a piece of art. Artwork has artists that created it and

buyers who retain a definite monetary claim to it; corpses do not. They do,

however, have family and associates (i.e. parents who conceived them and

acquaintances who influenced them). The family and associates would, in fact,

own the post-person because they were at some level responsible for its

existence. It follows that because of this ownership they also possess all

rights associated with its body and what happens to it.

Through abortion all claims to the fetus are dropped. A fetus is a person

without associates. The only people responsible for its existence are its

parents. If the parents decide to get an abortion they would, initially, be in

ownership of the fetus’s body and thus posses all rights associated with it.

Nonetheless, by going through with the abortion they have executed the right to

discard the body and have given up all claims of ownership and, consequently,

all of the body’s future rights. Furthermore, the ownership would not be passed

on to the third party performing the abortion because the abortion is not

involved with giving possession to the abortion clinic but to remove it from the

parents. The fetal tissue would be without any claim of ownership.

All parties, including the third party performing the abortion, desiring to

acquire fetal tissue would contain an equal right to it. The situation would be

analogous to someone disposing of a large sum of money by throwing it onto the

floor of a busy airport. All people in the vicinity with a desire to have the

money would have an equal right to it. The first people to acquire it, then,

would be in correct possession of it. Accordingly, the first persons to acquire

the fetal tissue (generally the persons performing the abortion) would be in

correct possession of it and have the right to control what happens to it.

The possibility for fetal tissue research to be advantageous to humanity gives

researchers not only an equal right to discarded fetuses but, in fact,

precedence to them. The mere speculation that research on dead fetuses could

give insights into birth defects and other diseases such as Parkinson’s and

Alzheimer’s creates a small possibly that humanity will be improved. That small

possibility would outweigh any other claim to the tissue. The only reason that

party performing the abortion does often end up in possession of fetal tissue is

because they were merely the firsts to acquire it out of the mother’s care.

However, Because fetal tissue researchers have a superior claim to the tissue it

ought to be the case where they are in instant ownership of it.

Researchers are, therefore, morally justified in fetal tissue research. The

fetus possesses no rights, and any person searching for beneficial effects

derived from the fetal tissue would have priority over other claims. In

ownership of the fetal tissue, a researcher would be morally appropriate in

perform research on it because they are executing their will.

One of the most noteworthy reasons to stop fetal tissue research is the

possibility of the creation of a cash market for fetal tissue and organs. The

reasoning behind this is that because there is such a high demand for fetal

tissue people would be willing to pay large amounts of money in order to attain

it. This, in some cases, may promote abortion, which is a form of murder, as

mean for gaining money. Fetal tissue research would indirectly motivate murder

and, thus, be partially responsible for it.

Ideally the answer to this problem is that it is a fallacy to think that the

persons selling the tissue ever have any monetary claim to it. In fact, the

people representing the greater good in the scientific community would be in

right possession of the tissue in the first place and therefore never have the

need to but it.

However, I am able to recognize that in our society this would never be the

case. Perhaps it is because we live in an economically driven society. The

greater good would not be saving lives or gaining knowledge but to make money.

This would render the ideal solution unfeasible because it would justify a

monetary claim to fetal tissue. It would also destroy my positive case for

fetal tissue research because the scientific community would no longer be

representing the greater good.

My only reply to this is that I would like to deal with prescriptive claims not

descriptive claims. I would like to prove fetal tissue research morally

legitimate in comparison to how our society ought to be not with how it really