2 Jun 2008 5:00pm - 6:30pm Centre for Family Research, Room 606


Speaker: Prof. Naomi Pfeffer (Human Rights & Social Justice Research Institute, London Metropolitan University)

Fetal personhood is the shibboleth in abortion politics. It is denied by
'pro-choice' advocates, and emphasised by 'pro-life' opponents. It therefore can come as an enormous surprise to discover that in Britain attributions of fetal personhood underwrite policies which, on the face of it, are antithetical to the 'pro-life' agenda.

Political realism is the art of the possible; it treats moral considerations as irrelevant to political decisions. This paper will give a brief historical account of how political realism on the part of the British government has allowed attributions of fetal personhood to feature in policies that regulate exploitation of aborted fetuses in non-therapeutic research such as stem cell research, and their treatment as human waste products.

A paper (in press) will be available to read prior to the Workshop, to give participants an introduction to Pfeffer’s current project. Please collect copies from CRASSH reception.

Naomi Pfeffer is a medical historian/sociologist (with an undergraduate degree in anthropology) whose work has covered a wide spectrum of reproduction related issues, from infertility to the commodification of the human body. Her book The stork and the syringe: a political history of reproductive medicine was published by Polity in 1993, and situated current trends and ideas about reproduction within their historical and sociological context. Since then, Naomi has written extensively on the history and politics of the new reproductive technologies, and is currently working on the development and regulation of collections of human tissue at the beginning and end of life, comparing developments in the US and UK. She is also currently completing Insider trading: a history of cadaver tissue banks in the US and UK (Yale University Press).


All welcome. No registration required.

Part of the Cambridge Interdisciplinary Reproduction Forum (CIRF



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