May Researchers Use “Biological Material” Unjustly Obtained?

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If an unborn baby in the fetal or embryonic stage of life dies as a result of a miscarriage it would not be immoral to do worthwhile scientific research using tissues taken from it. But, as Germain Grisez noted in his massive book on Difficult Moral Questions, a serious problem of conscience can frequently face pro-life scientists and researchers regarding use of tissues taken from embryonic or fetal human persons who were intentionally aborted. The quandary is the following: Suppose that it is not possible to do the research proposed by using spontaneously aborted unborn babies who miscarry.  For example, certain research may require using embryonic/fetal tissue that must be fresh and not frozen or in any way not normal and tissues from miscarried embryos/fetuses do not meet these criteria. What should a conscientious pro-life person do if his research center agreed to use biological material obtained as a result of the intentional abortion of babies in their embryonic or fetal stages of life? Grisez concluded that the scientist ought not participate in the research nor cooperate with it in any way, even by advising a colleague who would take his place but who is not as knowledgeable about the science involved as he is. Grisez, however, thinks that if certain conditions are fulfilled, he could offer this colleague some advice if it justified tolerating bad side effects that would accompany the discovery of a procedure that would also greatly benefit unborn babies (pp. 385-388).

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