After 146-Year Absence, 'Living Human Products' Back on U.S. Market

Library of Congress
For sale once more?
In 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring illegal the sale, purchase, or ownership of living human products, known then as people.

In 2009, Barack Obama signed an order lifting restrictions on federal funding of stem cell research,  a move that preceded by three weeks the apparent reversal of a key element of Lincoln's proclamation -- namely, the sale of merchandise that is homo sapien.

On March 23, a joint venture between California companies International Stem Cell Corporation and Cytograft Tissue Engineering, of Novato, announced the sale of a type of merchandise termed "living human product."

"Cytograft's living human product, called Lifelineā„¢ (trade-name not associated with Lifeline Cell Technology), is a promising technology," the venture's press release said.

The product in question consists of lab-grown vascular grafts consisting of real human tissue, the release said. The product will purportedly enable better coronary bypass operations, in what the release says will be future human trials.

So: if International Stem Cell Corporation and Cytograft Tissue Engineering advance beyond mere vein segments, and follow the route promised by stem-cell technology's most optimistic boosters, will they be able to manufacture every part of the body? If they do, will they be able to assemble them together into an integrated working specimen? If they sell it, would they advance from selling a "living human product" to a "living product that is human?" If so, do they begin selling a "living product who is a human?" And if so, does the Emancipation Proclamation (or 14th Amendment) make that illegal?

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