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The Polkinghorne Report on Fetal Research: nice recommendations, shame about the reasoning.
  1. J Keown
  1. Faculty of Law, Cambridge University.


    In 1989, in the wake of the first operations to transplant fetal tissue into the brains of sufferers from Parkinson's Disease, the UK Code of Practice governing the use of the fetus for research was overhauled by an eminent committee under the chairmanship of the Reverend Dr John Polkinghorne. The Polkinghorne Report has, however, attracted remarkably little comment or analysis. This paper is believed to be the first to subject it to sustained ethical and legal scrutiny. The author concludes that, although the committee's recommendations meet the major objections to the Code of Practice, the report is nevertheless vulnerable to criticism in its treatment of at least three issues: the moral status of the fetus; paternal consent to fetal use, and the ethical inter-relation of fetal use and abortion.

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