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Opinion 2.161 - Medical Applications of Fetal Tissue Transplantation

The principal ethical concern in the use of human fetal tissue for transplantation is the degree to which the decision to have an abortion might be influenced by the decision to donate the fetal tissue. In the application of fetal tissue transplantation the following safeguards should apply:

(l) The Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs’ guidelines on clinical investigation and organ transplantation are followed, as they pertain to the recipient of the fetal tissue transplant (see Opinion 2.07, "Clinical Investigation," and Opinion 2.16, "Organ Transplantation Guidelines");

(2) a final decision regarding abortion is made before initiating a discussion of the transplantation use of fetal tissue;

(3) decisions regarding the technique used to induce abortion, as well as the timing of the abortion in relation to the gestational age of the fetus, are based on concern for the safety of the pregnant woman;

(4) fetal tissue is not provided in exchange for financial remuneration above that which is necessary to cover reasonable expenses;

(5) the recipient of the tissue is not designated by the donor;

(6) health care personnel involved in the termination of a particular pregnancy do not participate in or receive any benefit from the transplantation of tissue from the abortus of the same pregnancy; and

(7) informed consent on behalf of both the donor and the recipient is obtained in accordance with applicable law. (I, IV, V)

Issued March 1992 based on the report "Medical Applications of Fetal Tissue Transplantation," adopted June 1989 (JAMA. 1990; 263: 565-570); Updated June 1996.