Jacobson H. The Dog's Last Walk.London: Bloomsbury; 2017

McCarthy J, O'Donnell K, Campbell L, Dooley D. Ethical arguments for access to abortion services in the Republic of Ireland: recent developments in the public discourse. J Med Ethics. 2018;

Olshansky SJ, Hayflick L. The role of the WI-38 cell strain in saving lives and reducing morbidity. AIMS Public Health. 2017; 4:(2)127-38

Letter to Mrs Debra L Vinnedge. 2005. (accessed 5 June 2018)

Skene L, Parker M. The role of the church in developing the law. J Med Ethics. 2002; 28:215-18

Vaccines and the fetus

02 July 2018
Volume 26 · Issue 7


After the abortion referendum in Ireland, ethical debates on the treatment of fetal material loom on the horizon. George Winter weighs the influence of the Church against the medical advances

The vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, which previously banned abortion, righted a long-standing wrong. The vote also vindicated the principles of autonomy and justice, which according to McCarthy et al (2018: 1)—who outlined recent developments in public discourse on abortion in Ireland— ‘are at the centre of social and democratic societies around the world.’

Although the focus is now on translating the will of the Irish people into legislation, other challenges may be looming on the ethical horizon. One source of debate could be whether it is acceptable to use fetal material, which would otherwise be destroyed, in medical research, and one might anticipate that the potential rise in abortions could lead to an increased interest in this area of research.

An early example of the possible conflicts that can arise is provided by a case involving Professor Leonard Hayflick—one of the great pioneers of cell culture in the 1950s and 1960s—and the Vatican.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Midwifery and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for midwives. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month