Her cells are "immortal," and so, it seems, is the legal battle over ownership of those cells. In an article about a recently settled lawsuit brought by the family of Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose cells were used without her knowledge or consent in research that helped develop treatments for many diseases, the New York Times quoted Professor Jacob Sherkow on the legal questions at the center of the case. The case revolved around the assumption that Lacks owned her body and any cells from it, but the property laws over cells are not as clear. “People think that because they have autonomy over their physical body, that means they have a, quote, property interest in it. That is just bluntly wrong,” Sherkow said, contradicting what might be considered common understanding.
Read more of Sherkow's quotes about the Lacks case from the New York Times.