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Bioethics Law [France]

Under the Bioethics Law it is prohibited to create embryos for research purposes or for the creation of stem cells. Therapeutic cloning is thus prohibited while reproductive cloning is considered a “crime against the human race.” Both procedures are criminalized under the law, but there is discussion in France of reconsidering the prohibition on therapeutic cloning.

The French medical association the Conseil de l'Ordre des Medecins has released a statement criticizing the adopted Bioethics Law because the law does not protect the legal status of the embryo. The association protests that the law would lead to regarding an embryo “as an object that could be disposed of and subjected to manipulations” (BMJ - [begin popup][end popup]).

Other normative measures

According to its various opinion statements, the National Consultative Ethics Committee (CCNE) is unanimously in favor of explicitly prohibiting reproductive cloning in French law. Regarding therapeutic cloning, the members of the CCNE have not come to a consensus on whether to ban this type of research due to the difficult ethical questions associated with the topic. However, the majority is in favor of therapeutic cloning under controlled conditions.

It is the CCNE’s view that the production of stem cell lines from embryos must only be derived using aborted fetuses, surplus in vitro fertilization (IVF) embryos, or cell nuclear replacement embryos. Furthermore, the committee declares that the human embryo must, as soon as it is formed, receive the respect owed to its status. The creation of embryos solely for the purpose of research is thus prohibited, with the exception in the context of evaluation of new medically assisted reproductive techniques.

The Code of Intellectual Property dictates at article 611-17 that, “the human body, its elements, and its products, as well as knowledge of the total or partial structure of the human gene, cannot as such be the subject of a patent.” This article adds a list of inventions that are excluded, and whose publication, implementation, or commercial exploitation would be contrary to public order. This list includes processes for cloning human beings. The basis for these prohibitions is consecrated in the French Civil Code, which states: “The human body, its elements, and its products cannot be the object of any rights of patrimony” and “conventions with a view to confer rights of patrimony to the human body, its elements, or its products, are null and void.”

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