¿Tienen las momias egipcias derecho a la privacidad?

  •  Michael Cook
  •  20 / 09 / 2010
  •  E-mail

La investigación con muestras de tejidos en cadáveres ha sido ampliamente discutida, dando lugar a estrictos lineamientos éticos; la manipulación de restos humanos antiguos, en cambio, no ha corrido con la misma suerte. En un artículo publicado recientemente en el “Semanario de Ética Médica”, el anatomista Frank Ruhli y la eticista Ina Kaufmann, ambos de la Universidad de Zurich, sostienen que la investigación en momias es invasiva, ya que revela información acerca de la historia familiar y condiciones médicas del sujeto momificado, quién si bien no se encuentra en condiciones de prestar su consentimiento, debería sin duda ser tratado con respeto.
Ruhli, quien está actualmente involucrado en una investigación con momias egipcias dice al respecto: “El cuerpo humano, vivo o muerto, posee un valor moral”; y por ello sostiene que los investigadores deben contrastar los beneficios que derivarían de sus investigaciones en relación con los derechos individuales y deseos del muerto, sin que la antigüedad de la muerte vaya en detrimento de su valor moral intrínseco.
Desde una perspectiva diferente, Franco Rollo, de la Universidad de Camerino, Italia, se opone a estas consideraciones basándose en la autoridad que le confiere el haber trabajado con Otzi, el hombre de hielo –quién murió hace 5.000 años y cuyos restos momificados fueron encontrados en los Alpes en el año 1991. A diferencia de Kaufmann y Ruhli, este investigador considera que los planteamientos éticos resultan relativamente insignificantes si los restos en cuestión son considerados por la mayoría de la gente “lo bastante viejos como para pertenecer a una época histórica y social, sentida realmente en forma diferente y distante del presente.”
Por su parte, Soren Holm, bioeticista y filósofo de la Universidad de Manchester, Inglaterra, considera que los investigadores deberían indagar la verdadera motivación que alienta su trabajo; es decir, preguntarse si actúan movidos por un interrogante científico o simplemente por curiosidad. Sobre este punto, Holm sostiene que dada la dificultad que presenta el desarrollo de una política verdaderamente integradora, un cuestionario ético que promueva la reflexión podría resultar una estrategia de gran utilidad. En esta misma línea, Frank Ruhli considera que los científicos deberían asumir una responsabilidad personal: “Si un investigador se propone trabajar con una momia, sería importante conocer cuáles son sus reflexiones al respecto.”
Información ampliatoria en New Scientist, Sept 10; Journal of Medical Ethics, DOI: 10.1136/jme.2010.036608

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