Fetal Tissue Transplants Essay Research Paper Is

Fetal Tissue Transplants Essay, Research Paper Is the transplantation of nueral tissue considered an ethical procedure? The transplantation of human fetal neural tissue into

Fetal Tissue Transplants Essay, Research Paper

Is the transplantation of nueral tissue considered an

ethical procedure?

The transplantation of human fetal neural tissue into

the brains of humans suffering from progressive

neurodegenerative disorders is one of the hottest arguments

currently being debated. Fetal neural tissue is being used

as a possible treatment for some diseases. The treatment

and possible cure for many of these diseases falls upon the

successful transplantation of fetal neural tissue from the

brain, spinal chord and peripheral nervous system. Some of

the possible beneficiaries of these transplants would be

those with Parkinson’s disease, a common neurodegenerative

disorder of the nervous system.

Fetal tissue transplantation involves injecting fetal

tissue obtained through electively aborted fetuses into

another human being. Because fetal tissue deemed most

appropriate and acceptable for transplantation is primarily

obtained from elective abortion procedures, many concerns

have arisen in the public, political, and scientific

communities. It is because of their unique characteristics

that fetal cells are far more ideal for use in tissue

transplantation than tissue derived from an adult donor.

Fetal tissue grows much faster than tissue obtained from an

adult donor, a few fetal cells from a donor have the

potential of replacing a large number of host cells.

Fetal tissue transplantation is a relatively new

procedure that has a rather large history behind it. The

first attempts to transplant human fetal tissue into patients

took place in the 1920’s. The first major success using

fetal tissue to treat a medical condition was in the 1950’s

when a vaccine for polio was developed. There was relatively

little public concern about the use of fetal tissue until the

late 1980’s when the procedure of fetal tissue

transplantation became known.

In 1988, researchers in New Mexico reported in The

New England Journal of Medicine their results of human fetal

neural tissue into the brains of patients suffering from

Parkinson’s disease. This case later became well known as

the La Roza case. In their report on a transplantation of

fetal tissue substantia nigra, the tissue was transplanted in

the caudate nucleus of a fifty-year old male with a nine year

history with Parkinson’s disease. Prior to the

transplantation procedure, he was suffering from severe

symptoms associated with the latter stages of the Parkinson’s

disease, particularly severe muscle rigidity and tremor.

Three months after the transplant there was considerable

improvement in his tormenting symptoms. As a result of the

procedure, his ridgedness and tremors decreased noticeably.

Also, the patient was able to control his remaining symptoms

with a much lower dosage of medication then before.

In response to the apparent success of the La Roza

transplants and initial hints of a possible breakthrough cure

for Parkinson’s disease, US medical scientists had decided to

join the race to cure this terribly debilitating ailment

through fetal neuro-tissue transplants. They realized,

however, that any truly legitimate effort would require

federal funding. It was the request from the National

Institute of Health (NIH) for funding for human fetal tissue

transplantation research that ignited intense researches into

the procedure of fetal tissue transplantation in the United


With this tremendous breakthrough in biomedical science

that may someday relieve the suffering of millions of people

with various neurological inflections came great controversy.

Intense moral and ethical debates surround the use of fetal

tissue for research and transplantation procedures. Debates

began soon after the United State Supreme Court legalized

abortion in Roe v. Wade and continues to this day with debate

in congress concerning the passage of the Morris K. Udall

Bill, which upon passage will provide one-hundred million

dollars a year for Parkinson’s disease research.

In March 1988, Robert Windom, a strong Right to Life

supporter, rejected the NIH’s funding request and issued a

moratorium on federal funding for research on fetal tissue

obtained through induced abortions. This effectively stopped

all research on fetal tissue in federally funded

laboratories. Even though the moratorium only applied to

federal funding, in reality it stopped all legitimate

research involving fetal tissue because of the enormous costs

associated with a single operation easily exceeding $50,000.

Private researchers were discouraged and unwilling to take a

chance on such expensive experiments without the likelihood

of being reimbursed for their time and expense. In support of

the moratorium, President Bush stated that the ban was not an

absolute ban on fetal tissue research, nor was it banning

federal funding of all types of fetal tissue research. He

reiterated that the moratorium was only applicable to federal

funding of fetal tissue research obtained from induced

abortions. Federal funding could still be obtained for

research using tissue from spontaneous abortions

(miscarriages), ectopic pregnancies and stillbirths. In

conclusion, President Bush stated that the Nation’s best

interest would not be served through granting federal funds

for research that was “promoting and legitimizing abortion”

and which is deemed “morally repugnant” to many Americans.

In May 1992, in an attempt to appear sympathetic to the

needs of medical science while not alienating its close ties

with the anti-abortion groups, President Bush’s

administration agreed to establish a fetal tissue bank. The

bank would collect tissue from miscarriages and ectopic

pregnancies and distribute fetal tissue to medical

researchers. However, for a variety of reasons, the

establishment of a fetal tissue bank would not be able to

provide the quality or quantity of tissue necessary for most

transplantation purposes.

One of Bill Clinton’s first official duties as President

of the United States was the rescission of the moratorium

involving fetal tissue transplantation research. Using his

executive authority, President Clinton enacted a previously

vetoed provision concerning fetal tissue research. His

movement forever removed administrative discretion from

pursuing a policy of not supporting or denying funding for

fetal tissue research. As a result, research involving fetal

tissue from induced abortions are now permitted under federal


Fetal tissue transplants affect many people. Anyone

with a neurodegenerative disorder is affected by the

procedure. The transplants are used to treat diseases such as

Parkinson’s. Tremors, ridgedness, and hypokentetics are some

of the symptoms that are being cured by fetal tissue

transplants. The transplants have even been proven to regain

use of damaged brain tissue. Most of the people who obtain

the procedure are years into their diagnosis of the disease.

Anyone can obtain Parkinson’s disease, but the older the

victim the more susceptible.

In order for us to better analyze the topic of fetal

tissue transplants we must ask and answer some ethics based


What makes right acts right?

If the process of fetal tissue transplantation is to be

considered right it must be further questioned. For something

to be right it must serve good, or not serve evil. According

to this definition fetal tissue transplants would be

considered wrong, because in order to do good to one human,

another one must be killed.

To whom is a moral duty owed?

In this case, moral duty is owed in several different

places. For one, the parent child relationship is a major

one at hand. If fetal tissue transplants would be allowed,

in many cases there would be no parent child relationship

because the child was murdered in a attempt to save another

human being. The person to God aspect is also at hand.

Abortion, which is a heavy sin in most major religions would

be taking place and would be accepted by society. Also

todays’ generation and the next generation comparison would

also be harmed. By accepting abortion and murder into

society, moral values would be lost.

What kind of acts are right?

The reasoning of what makes right acts right is based on

normative ethics. Truth telling, confidentiality, justice,

maximized benefits and the lack of harm are the main impacts

involved. Even though some of these do not apply to fetal

tissue transplantation the ones that do, lead to the process

of fetal tissue transplantation being wrong. Justice could

not possibly be served if one live is exchanged for another.

Maximized benefits would also be unsatisfied. The only

benefit would be that the disease would be treated and less

severe, at the cost of human lives. The lack of harm is also

interrupted. The fetus is killed, which may also lead to

emotional pain within the mother.

How do rules apply to specific situations?

As stated earlier, there have been many laws and

prohibitions against the process of fetal tissue transplants

for many reasons. Rules state that it is not legal to kill

another human being. In this case, abortion is being

justified and the murder of fetus’ will take place. Moral

rules and beliefs also come into play. It is not morally

right for someone to hurt someone else in order to make

themselves feel better. Society does not allow these laws or

beliefs to take place nor should we.

What ought to be done in specific cases?

In every situation the facts are different. In the case

of fetal tissue transplantation, the facts are as follows.

Innocent fetus’ are being killed to undergo research in a

possible attempt to treat or possibly cure nuerodegenerative

disorders. This is not the right thing to do. Further

research for this study should be banned along with any

attempts to sell ones fetal tissues to an undercover market.

In conclusion, although fetal tissue transplants may

deem to be a very helpful procedure in the treatment for many

diseases it should be outlawed and banned. I say this

because in order for one life to survive a new life must be

taken away. Not only does this serve as a problem, but if

this procedure is accepted it will lead the society to

believe that this procedure is encouraged when it really is

not. Also, if the procedure is accepted by society it would

lead to an eventual black market of tissues and organs that

could only increase the rate of abortion. These possible

problems all have the snowball affect on one another. In

order to play the matter safely where no harm is to be done

would be to outlaw fetal tissue transplantation.