November 25, 1974

Research on the Fetus

JAMA. 1974;230(8):1124. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240080014005

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To the Editor.—  The COMMENTARY covered everything from German measles to the Scopes trial—everything, that is, except abortus research.The investigators in the Boston case (New Engl J Med 288:1219, 1973) administered drugs to human fetuses in utero, drugs that were therapeutic neither for mother nor fetus. Proposed National Institutes of Health guidelines would prohibit such activity, but not autopsies and not organ or tissue donation. The Helsinki Declaration restricted nontherapeutic research on live human subjects, particularly those in a dependent position, when the research is harmful. The issue, then, is whether we are going to violate this principle in the name of progress.