Under the pretence of autonomy: contradictions in the guidelines for human tissue donation.
Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy 2009 August; 12(3): 281-289
The paper concerns the uncertainty in current propositions for the regulation of tissue donation. It focuses mainly on two statements issued in Germany. The scope of the paper is to give a systematic approach to ethical problems coming up in this field. Both statements try to maintain the idea of positive autonomy in regard to tissue donation, but their attempt eventually is forced to fail. Different procedures are proposed that most often are not practicable (because a truly "informed" consent is impossible, or because optional models tend to overwhelm donors). Blanket consent is also proposed, but this form of consent cannot be seen as an expression of self-determination. Under the pretence of autonomy, donors are left alone with the task to control scientific research and to have their personal and property rights respected. Following this rather weak position of autonomy, in one statement there is a clear tendency to place the intrinsic value of research over the autonomy of the donor. In order to avoid this conclusion, autonomy has to be more than individual decision making. It has to be embedded in social and institutional rules which support and protect individual choice. If the benefits of research are supposed to lead to a common good and to satisfy public interests, then research has to be controlled through public institutions. Autonomy does not exclude institutional support, as institutional support is the only way to take the autonomy of donors seriously.
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Autonomy; Blanket Consent; Common Good; Consent; Decision Making; Donors; Guidelines; Property Rights; Property; Regulation; Research; Rights; Tissue Donation; Uncertainty; Philosophical Ethics; Ethics Committees / Consultation; Genetics, Molecular Biology and Microbiology; Informed Consent or Human Experimentation; Donation / Procurement of Organs and Tissues; Scientific Research Ethics;
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