Hebben we de plicht om ons lichaamsmateriaal ter beschikking stellen voor biomedisch onderzoek?
Faculty of Law
Ethiek en maatschappij. - Gent
, p. 1-30
Technological breakthroughs in th e field of genetic research and data processing have made it possible to study the biochemical processes and possible genetic causes that underlie complex diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disorders. As a resu lt, human body material has become an extremely important resource for research. However, research on human body mate- rial has specific characteristics that presen t major challenges to the classical ethical framework and more in particular to its re quirement of free, explicit, specific and informed consent of the research particip ant. Several countries have even intro- duced a presumed consent system for research use of residual body material and for post mortem removal of body material for research purposes. In this paper we crit- ically examine various arguments that could be invoked to justify such a system. We argue that all of these fail to establish a general duty to make ones body material available for research and, consequently, fa il to substantiate a presumed consent regime in the contexts at hand. Finally, we suggest various ways of improving the system of explicit consent so as to maxi mise the likelihood that due weight will be given to the wishes of individuals regarding the use of their residual body material and of their body material after death.