Ethical guidance on human embryonic and fetal tissue transplantation: A European overview

Abstract
This article presents an overview ofregulations, guidelines and societal debates ineight member states of the EC about a)embryonic and fetal tissue transplantation(EFTT), and b) the use of human embryonic stemcells (hES cells) for research into celltherapy, including `therapeutic' cloning. Thereappears to be a broad acceptance of EFTT inthese countries. In most countries guidance hasbeen developed. There is a `strong' consensusabout some of the central conditions for `goodclinical practice' regarding EFTT.International differences concern, amongstothers, some of the informed consent issuesinvolved, and the questions whether anintermediary organisation is necessary, whetherthe methods of abortion may be influenced bythe possible use of EFT, and whether EFTTshould only be used for the experimentaltreatment of rare disorders. The potential useof hES cells for research into cell therapy hasgiven a new impetus to the debate about (human)embryo research. The therapeutic prospects withregard to the retrieval and research use of hEScells appear to function as a catalyst for theintroduction of less restrictive regulationsconcerning research with spare embryos, atleast in some European countries. It remains tobe seen whether the prospect of treatingpatients suffering from serious disorders withtransplants produced by therapeutic cloningwill decrease the societal and moral resistanceto allowing the generation of embryos for`instrumental' use
Keywords cloning  embryo  ethics  Europe  fetus  guidelines  stem cells  transplantation
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