Science and medicine have long possessed a culturally distinct status in American society; however, in the contemporary context of corporate biotechnology and managed health care, this cultural authority has begun to appear to many as increasingly threatening. Science and medicine often are criticized for having become businesses. This recognition becomes more daunting when one considers that a primary object of entrepreneurial pursuits in science and medicine is the commodification of the human body. That is, many scientific and medical practices effectively reduce the body to an object defined by its exchange value in the marketplace. Given the rapid advances of medical research and biotechnology, the relationship of American culture to its scientific and medical institutions can be described as ambiguous at best. This Comment examines the laws governing the organ donation process as well as controversial legal debates over property rights in organs and other body parts used for medical research, and focuses on the noticeable absence in these ethical debates of the proper acknowledgment of the medical profession's entrepreneurial interest in its subjects. It argues that this gap in our legal discourse, the glossing over of scientific and medical economic interests, has brought about much of the current anxiety concerning the rapid advances of biotechnology.
Melissa M. Perry,
Fragmented Bodies, Legal Privilege, and Commodification in Science and Medicine,
Me. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/mlr/vol51/iss1/9