Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Germans Vow to Prove They Have Consent to Use Bodies in Car Tests

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Germans Vow to Prove They Have Consent to Use Bodies in Car Tests

Article excerpt

Chastised by the Vatican and under fire from the government, Heidelberg University promised Wednesday to prove that it got relatives' consent to use cadavers in car crash tests.

The disclosure that the bodies of 200 adults and eight children were used in car safety research since 1975 created a public uproar in Germany, a country sensitive to medical experiments because of those carried out by the Nazis.

Michael Schwarz, a spokesman for Heidelberg University, said the research on crash injuries conducted by the school's forensic pathology institute had saved lives. "This is a completely normal matter for the researchers involved, but apparently some people don't like thinking about life and death. I suspect this sensitivity has something to do with Germany's past."

He said the tests using eight children's bodies helped improve car-safety seats. Tests using adult bodies has led to better seat belts, he said. Relatives' consent has been obtained in every case, Schwarz said.

In one test documented by the newspaper Bild, the body of a 47-year-old man was strapped into the driver seat of an Opel Kadett with measuring instruments attached to the head, chest, hips and lungs. Another car steered by remote control then crashed into the driver's side at 30 miles per hour, causing crushed lungs, broken ribs and a torn liver.

German law permits the use of cadavers for research so long as relatives' consent is obtained. The Vatican found that alarming.

L'Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, said in a commentary, "A body cannot be used as a guinea pig for auto tests. What happened is repugnant to the conscience."

Germany's leading automobile club, ADAC, said tests with children's cadavers were inhuman and must stop. But a spokesman at the Munich-based car club said the use of adult corpses was acceptable if permission had been given before death.

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Car crash tests using human corpses are being conducted at major U. …

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