Page URL: https://www.progress.org.uk/ncobbodies10

This policy document is part of a response submitted by the Progress Educational Trust (PET) to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics' Consultation on Human Bodies in Medicine and Research.


How should these values be prioritised, or balanced against each other? Is there one value that should always take precedence over the others?

The most important of the values listed in the consultation document, and the one that should take precedence in most if not all instances, is that of 'autonomy'. A logical corollary of making autonomy paramount is scope for commercial transactions involving human bodily material.

Three of the other values listed in the consultation document - 'maximising health and welfare', 'reciprocity', and 'solidarity' - combine to form an important secondary consideration. This consideration is the fact that it is incumbent upon all of us who believe donation to be desirable (especially those of us who work in science and medicine) to persuade the public of the merits of donating human bodily material (or consenting to donate it after death). In other words, society should encourage, but not compel, its citizens to become donors.