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Mummy Rights: Do Ancient Dead People Deserve Medical Privacy?

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09/13/2010 01:02 PM
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Mummy Rights: Do Ancient Dead People Deserve Medical Privacy?
[link to blogs.discovermagazine.com]

Our medical establishment has elaborate rules governing patients’ privacy and ensuring that embarrassing medical details don’t become public. But when King Tut is diagnosed with a disease–or even when researchers turn up something as sensitive as signs of inbreeding–it makes headlines across the world. That’s just not fair to Tut, two researchers are arguing.

Anatomist Frank Rühli and ethicist Ina Kaufmann of the University of Zurich, Switzerland argue that mummy research needs an ethical overhaul. In their paper, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, they note that probing a mummy is an invasive process that can reveal intimate facts, and point out that the mummy never gave informed consent for these procedures. Rühli suggests that mummy researchers should weigh their scientific objectives against the rights and potential wishes of the long-dead individual.....