Young Children as Regenerative Tissue Donors: Considering the Need for Legal Reform in Light of Divergent Ethical Approaches
Journal of law and medicine 2011 Sep; 19(1): 172-95
In Australia, young children who lack decision-making capacity can have regenerative tissue removed to treat another person suffering from a severe or life-threatening disease. While great good can potentially result from this as the recipient's life may be saved, ethical unease remains over the "use" of young children in this way. This article examines the ethical approaches that have featured in the debate over the acceptability and limits of this practice, and how these are reflected in Australia's legal regime governing removal of tissue from young children. This analysis demonstrates a troubling dichotomy within Australia's laws that requires decision-makers to adopt inconsistent ethical approaches depending on where a donor child is situated. It is argued that this inconsistency in approach warrants legal reform of this ethically sensitive issue.
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