Before one can answer the question of “Who Owns the Body?” it must be defined what the body is. The spiritual route of defining the body is to encompass the “soul” or “spirit” inside of the body. This is a deeper form of ownership in that an individual’s integral being is controlled as opposed to simply their physical form. Merriam-Webster defines the body as “a person's or animal's whole physical self” (Merriam-Webster). The physical form of the body is a factual, concrete definition of the body, giving it more merit in society, and in law institutions.
There have been several court cases that have dealt with the issue of body ownership. Court cases are the main component to the history of ...view middle of the document...
In the case of Mohr v. Williams, self-ownership was challenged by medical sciences. According to Lawnix criminal Case index, “Mohr arranged for Williams, an ear specialist, to perform surgery on her right ear. After Williams began performing the operation he decided that Mohr’s left ear rather than her right ear required surgery, although the condition was not life threatening. Williams operated successfully on the left ear without having received permission from Mohr.” (Mohr). This prompted the question “If a patient gives a physician specific consent to operate, does the physician have general consent to perform other surgical operations undertaken to treat other problems” (Mohr)? This is a controversial subject if an individual has given consent to be operated upon in a specific area, does that give the right to the temporary “owner” to do what they wish if it is for the better? The court deemed that this is acceptable only if this case is an emergency. “However, this does not allow the doctor a free license to attempt to remedy all problems found that are not life threatening” (Mohr). This case, like that of Roe v. Wade, gave the title of ownership to the individual.
Another case of self-ownership against medical sciences is Moore v. Regents of the University of California. This case involved Moore, a man being treated for hairy cell leukemia by Dr. Golde. During his treatment of Moore, Golde removed “blood, bone marrow, Moore’s spleen, and other tissues” without informing Moore that he had planned to research his cells (Moore). Along with this, Golde also used Moore’s cells to patent his own cell line, from which he gained royalties and stock options (Moore). This case challenged whether a medical practitioner has the right to use an individual’s bodily possessions without his consent and then profit off of them as well. This manipulation was deemed unlawful in court with the verdict that stated, “Under the duty to obtain informed consent, a doctor must disclose his intent in using a patient for research and economic gain” (Moore). This case again proved that an individual has the right to their own body against science if they fight for it.
These cases are all essential parts in the history of body ownership. They show that throughout history individuals have had to face challenges from different medical/scientific fields to maintain ownership over their bodies. These are not the only fields that challenge the individual; there are several other forces with ways of manipulating their influence over the human body.
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