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Is cannibalism ethical? Show more Show less
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Cannibalism - the practice of eating human flesh - is illegal in every country on Earth. Yet, the moral context is far from straightforward: is it always wrong? What about in matters of life and death? Should having the victim's consent impact the way it is viewed?

Forms of cannibalism already exist in mainstream society Show more Show less

Whether in religious ritual or post-natal diet, forms of cannibalism are already widely accepted.
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Consumption of placenta is modern-day cannibalism

Cannibalism exists in the modern world to this very day through notions such as the consumption of the placenta. This practice is disguised by promoting its nutritional value that has no basis in science.

The Argument

Cannibalism has been practised since the beginning of time, right from the palaeolithic man himself. A renewed interest into the age-old practice has resulted in the revival of modernized cannibalism which includes human placentophagy or the eating of one’s placenta after the birth of a child. Believed to have immense health benefits with its rich protein, iron and nutrient content, it is said to be a great cure for postpartum depression and fatigue.[1] An increasing number of people are turning to consuming the placenta, despite there being no scientific proof of its benefits. It particularly gained prominence with Kim Kardashian who followed into the footsteps of her sister, Kourtney, proudly showing off her placenta pills on social media. If such a form of cannibalism is accepted, practiced, and widely encouraged, then why is the cannibalism of other parts of the body considered taboo? Although there is evidence for the consumption of some parts of the body being hazardous, such as the brain, for parts which are clean and even beneficial, there should be no ethical reason why they can't be eaten.

Counter arguments

As the argument claims, placentophagy in humans does not have any scientific proof that endorses its benefits. On the contrary, there are instances in recent history where consuming the placenta has put the health of the baby at risk. The placenta, while providing nutrients and oxygen to the baby in utero, also filters out its waste products. As a result, the chances of the placenta having bacteria and virus is sufficiently high. Furthermore, the steaming and dehydration techniques used while processing it do not adequately guarantee its complete sanitization. In 2016, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was notified about an ailing infant who developed a case of late-onset group B Streptococcus. After a series of extensive tests, it was revealed that the infection originated from the mother’s placenta which had been treated and converted into a pill. She consumed two pills, thrice a day since three days after the birth of her child.[2] This showcases that no scientific proof for the benefits of placenta consumption exists, and instead proof that is indeed harmful is in abundance.

Proponents

Premises

[P1] It is believed that placentas having a high nutritional value and are rich in protein and iron. [P2] Consuming placentas help to increase the quality and quantity of breast milk, and help with postpartum depression and fatigue.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] Placentas are also the breeding ground for various infections and viruses that can affect both the mother and the baby. [Rejecting P2] There is no scientific evidence to prove that placentas help with postpartum depression and fatigue.

References

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/labor-and-delivery/expert-answers/eating-the-placenta/faq-20380880
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6625a4.htm

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This page was last edited on Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 15:46 UTC

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