The fetal tissue economy: from the abortion clinic to the stem cell laboratory
Kent, J. (2008) The fetal tissue economy: from the abortion clinic to the stem cell laboratory. Social Science and Medicine, 67 (11). pp. 1747-1756. ISSN 0277-9536
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.09.027
This paper examines the exchange relationships between women undergoing abortion, the clinicians who procure fetal tissue and stem cell scientists in Britain, and argues that the fetal tissue economy is an important dimension of the gendered bioeconomy that underpins stem cell science. In so doing it suggests that the path from the abortion clinic to the stem cell laboratory differs from the route taken by pre-implantation embryos from the in vitro fertilisation clinic in important ways. It reports on a study which included 29 in-depth, semi-structured interviews with stem cell scientists, policymakers, clinicians, activists and sponsors of stem cell research. The paper explores the meanings attached to aborted fetuses and how women's relationship to fetal tissue is constructed in the interviews, the law and official guidance on the use and disposal of fetal tissue. This is linked to variability in consent procedures and procurement practices.
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