Ethical guidance on human embryonic and fetal tissue transplantation: a European overview
de Wert, G × Berghmans, R L Boer, G J Andersen, S Brambati, B Carvalho, A S Dierickx, Kris Elliston, S Nunez, P Osswald, W Vicari, M #
Medicine, health care, and philosophy vol:5 issue:1 pages:79-90
This article presents an overview of regulations, guidelines and societal debates in eight member states of the EC about a) embryonic and fetal tissue transplantation (EFTT), and b) the use of human embryonic stem cells (hES cells) for research into cell therapy, including 'therapeutic' cloning. There appears to be a broad acceptance of EFTT in these countries. In most countries guidance has been developed. There is a 'strong' consensus about some of the central conditions for 'good clinical practice' regarding EFTT. International differences concern, amongst others, some of the informed consent issues involved, and the questions whether an intermediary organisation is necessary, whether the methods of abortion may be influenced by the possible use of EFT, and whether EFTT should only be used for the experimental treatment of rare disorders. The potential use of hES cells for research into cell therapy has given a new impetus to the debate about (human) embryo research. The therapeutic prospects with regard to the retrieval and research use of hES cells appear to function as a catalyst for the introduction of less restrictive regulations concerning research with spare embryos, at least in some European countries. It remains to be seen whether the prospect of treating patients suffering from serious disorders with transplants produced by therapeutic cloning will decrease the societal and moral resistance to allowing the generation of embryos for 'instrumental' use.