REPORTS of medical uses of tissue from aborted fetuses raise serious ethical questions. These questions could deepen the already fierce political controversy over abortion. Tissue from fetuses from elective abortions, obtained with the ``informed consent'' of the mothers, is made available to researchers and, at the moment, for treatment of individuals with brain disorders. Some argue that the trade in such tissue represents a legitimate medical industry. They say safeguards can be set to prevent mothers from initiating pregnancy for the sole purpose of generating such tissue as if it were a product, or to forbid the use of such tissue to aid a family member.
Nonetheless, there is something inherently repelling about attempts to convert a terminated or failed pregnancy into a vehicle for medical commerce. The potential for abuse - the very idea of ``for profit'' abortion, by medical traffickers or mothers - is abhorrent. That there can even be an argument over whether a fetus is ``renewable body tissue'' or a ``body organ'' indicates an unacceptable callousness toward human generation.
Proponents say finding a ``positive'' purpose for the fetal tissue may alleviate the emotional burden of women who have abortions. Opponents - from both the pro-choice and pro-life camps - fear an encouragement of the practice of abortion.
Congress will have to look at this one.