In the winter of 1980, during the final months of her nearly 32-year reign, Juliana of the Netherlands received multiple distraught letters from subjects deeply disturbed by a news item making waves in national media. In December, the Dutch Telegraaf had reported that a Leiden internist had taken blood samples from foetuses aborted in the fifth month of pregnancy for experimental purposes, an item quickly picked up on by other big media. Due to recent developments in chemical abortion-techniques, foetuses were often left intact after leaving the uterus and sometimes still showed signs of life such as muscular movement or a heartbeat. Although that did not mean these foetuses could survive outside of the womb, leading newspapers soon reported that experiments were conducted on “live-aborted children” in the Netherlands.
By Noortje Jacobs and Steven van der Laan
Do animals carry legal obligations? To the twenty-first century reader of Shells & Pebbles this question might appear to be odd. Surely, only in fables pigs are summoned to appear before a judge to be held accountable for any misdemeanour. Not quite. In past centuries, animal trials were not unheard of. In fact, one might wonder with the advent of the animal rights movement in the twentieth century, whatever happened to animal duties? A blog post on a cat in court.
By Noortje Jacobs
For my research, I came across the Pulitzer Prize winning novel Arrowsmith, written by Harry Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) in 1925 and based upon the experiences of the (by now) famous bacteriologist Paul de Kruif (1890-1971). One of the most widely read medical novels of the twentieth century, Arrowsmith has often been lauded as a source of recognition and inspiration for both medical doctors and scientific researchers. While this explanation for the novel’s enduring influence is probably true, I hope to argue in this blog post that the strength of Arrowsmith rather lies in those passages which move away from the portrayal of ‘the Scientist’ as morally superior human being and instead highlight the difficult tension between scientific ideals and social existence.