Comparative Biomedical Policy: Governing Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Comparative Biomedical Policy: Governing Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Comparative Biomedical Policy: Governing Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Comparative Biomedical Policy: Governing Assisted Reproductive Technologies

Synopsis

This book presents a comparative study examining assisted reproductive technology policies in North America and Europe. Based on original and detailed research, this up-to-date volume establishes a knowledge base for understanding policy debates on topics such as embryonic stem cell research and therapeutic cloning.

Excerpt

Only very few issues affect the fundamental and vital aspects of human life as much as reproductive technology does. Although techniques like donor insemination have been practised since the 1960s, public controversies started with the fertilisation of life outside the woman’s body and the birth of the first ‘test-tube baby’ in England in 1978. the rapid development of biomedical research in the last decades - including work on embryonic stem cells, genetic selection, and cloning - calls for political regulation and guidelines. Answering extremely difficult ethical and medical questions in this area cannot be left to the traditional self-regulatory power of the medical profession. Undesired practices must be prevented, and access to modern techniques by potential users guaranteed.

The contributions to this volume all deal with so-called assisted reproductive technology (ART), covering human fertilisation and reproduction techniques through medical intervention instead of sexual intercourse. the authors, however, do not restrict themselves to the consequences for policy-makers of the application of these techniques or of the public debates in many countries. They all deal with art as a wide and diffuse policy domain covering a number of difficult medical, ethical, legal and budgetary issues. the goal of this volume is much more ambitious than simply presenting an overview of very different national policies. in order to deal with the many aspects of art policies in diverse national contexts, an analytical framework of the policy process is developed and applied by each contributor in each country. in this way, the search for common developments and general findings does not disappear into the ocean of country-specific details that usually characterises cross-national empirical studies. Instead, the crucial question can be confronted: how can these differences between policies in various countries be explained?

Before the national art policies in eleven countries are presented, Malcolm Goggin, Deborah Orth, Ivar Bleiklie and Christine Rothmayr offer an overview of the main aspects of these techniques in their introductory chapter. Furthermore, they present a common analytical framework of the policy process based on the autonomy of the medical experts on the one hand and the access to art by potential users on the other.

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