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Law and policy in the era of reproductive genetics
  1. T Caulfield1,
  2. L Knowles2,
  3. E M Meslin3
  1. 1Faculty of Law, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Alberta, Canada, and Health Law Institute, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta
  2. 2Education and Outreach, The Hastings Center, Garrison, New York, USA
  3. 3Indiana University Center for Bioethics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indiana University, Indiana, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 T Caulfield
 Health Law Institute, 4th Floor, Law Centre, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2H5, Canada;


The extent to which society utilises the law to enforce its moral judgments remains a dominant issue in this era of embryonic stem cell research, preimplantation genetic diagnosis, and human reproductive cloning. Balancing the potential health benefits and diverse moral values of society can be a tremendous challenge. In this context, governments often adopt legislative bans and prohibitions and rely on the inflexible and often inappropriate tool of criminal law. Legal prohibitions in the field of reproductive genetics are not likely to reflect adequately the depth and diversity of competing stakeholder positions. Rather, a comprehensive and readily responsive regulatory policy is required. Such a policy must attend to the evolving scientific developments and ethical considerations. We outline a proposal for effective, responsive, and coherent oversight of new reproductive genetic technologies.

  • genetics
  • new reproductive technologies
  • law
  • criminal law
  • policy
  • bioethics

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  • The data was collected by Environics between March 7 and 24 2002 and involved 2014 Canadians.

  • Sources of support: The Health Law Institute is supported in part by the Stem Cell Network and Genome Prairie. The Indiana University Center for Bioethics is supported in part by the Indiana Genomics Initiative (INGEN). The Indiana Genomics Initiative is supported in part by Lilly Endowment Inc. The Hastings Center work on reproductive genomics is funded by The Greenwall Foundation and The Overbrook Foundation.