The Womb: The New Scientific Frontier?

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The Womb: The New Scientific Frontier? In 1967 James Conniff, a reporter for the New York Times Magazine, wrote that the womb was the new frontier of science (Maynard-Moody, 1995). His article, and a smattering of other voices uncomfortable with fetal research, were a foreshadow of the great political and social controversy over the use of fetuses in scientific research. Prior to the Supreme Court's ruling in Roe vs. Wade in 1973, fetal research went on relatively peacefully without any protests from the public. After abortion was made legal by the Court's decision, the country was split between pro- and antiabortionists. While not their primary target, fetal research became another issue used by the antiabortionists to further their political interests. "Fetal research became a small skirmish in the larger battle over abortion" (Maynard-Moody, 1995). Representatives in government were sometimes elected based solely on their abortion position. The immense political pressure brought on by the antiabortionists caused otherwise pro-research politicians to vote for bans on fetal research. A ban on federally-funded fetal research was put in place by the Reagan Administration and continued through Bush's years in office. A day after Clinton was inaugurated, he lifted this ban. The political and social controversy surrounding the use of fetuses has not died down or been resolved, however. No one doubts the value that fetal cells might have in the treatment or cure of many diseases, but the arguments on both sides of this issue deal with ethical considerations. The basic factor that informs both sides is how they define the rights of the fetus. On one side is the view that if the fetus is nonviable or is going to be aborted anyway, it is just tissue that should not go to waste. The other side of this issue are those that consider it immoral to use tissue from abortions. One proponent of this view is John Cardinal Krol who said, "If there is a more unspeakable crime than abortion itself, it is using the victims of abortion as living human guinea pigs" (Maynard-Moody, 1995). Steven Maynard-Moody, in his book The Dilemma of the Fetus, discusses the underlying tension that makes this and other medical advances such as gene therapy or human cloning so controversial in our society. He says that the underlying tension is "the friction between our addiction to progress and our fear that science erodes human values" (Maynard-Moody, 1995). He gives the example of the tragedy of the medieval Dr.
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