For science's sake

Published: Wednesday 15 May 1996

ARE science and religion at loggerheads? It seems they are, at least in this case. A professor of bio-ethics and veterinary science at the Birmingham University, David Morton, recently defended his controversial statement that persons in a persistent vegetative state ("s), could replace animals in scientific experiments. Speaking at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, Morton justified his stand by arguing that many people are already leaving their bodies for medical research" and that "these people could give far more accurate information in experiments than chimpanzees". According to Morton, there was a debate as to whether Pits patients were people at all. Being people suffering from permanent and irreversible damages, they would make ideal candidates for experiments, once doctors withdrew food and water from them. Morton, also adds that his suggestion is more a reflection on what - according to him - may be a practical outcome in times to come.

Logical as it may sound, his statement has invited flak from religious leaders and relatives of PVS patients.

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