Quite by accident I recently came across some articles from the 1990s that have not dated with the passage of time. Thirty years ago many were debating the ethical issues surrounding vivisection, abortion, spare part surgery, IVF, the oncoMouse and gene manipulation in general. (The oncoMouse was specially bred to be susceptible to cancer, in order to facilitate cancer research). Then, as now, scientific research in general, and medical research in particular, was proceeding apace with very little overview of the legal framework under which such procedures were being introduced and virtually no public debate about the desirability of such procedures. The general public were presented with nothing more than the smiling faces of the happy couple beaming at the babe in their arms. The fact that for every success there were at least ten failures was never mentioned.
Many issues are raised that are crying out for public a debate, an urgent debate that has, time and again, been stalled by clever publicity of successful procedures benefiting loved ones and their families. Older wisdom holds true: because something can be done, it does not follow that it has to be done in practice. All too often, decisions are being made in times of crisis and stress, things that might, on more mature reflection, be left to take their course.
With these thoughts in mind, I have taken an article written by David W. Evans and published in Home Quarterly in 1991 as a basis for debate on these issues. The article, entitled "Organ Transplants and the 'Brain Death' Fallacy" is long, so it is posted up in seven instalments.