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Making regulations and drawing up legislation in Islamic countries under conditions of uncertainty, with special reference to embryonic stem cell research
  1. S Aksoy
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr S Aksoy
 Harran University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, Morfoloji Binasi, 63300 Sanliurfa, Turkey;


Stem cell research is a newly emerging technology that promises a wide variety of benefits for humanity. It has, however, also caused much ethical, legal, and theological debate. While some forms of its application were prohibited in the beginning, they have now started to be used in many countries. This fact obliges us to discuss the regulation of stem cell research at national and international level. It is obvious that in order to make regulations and to draw up legislation at national or international levels it helps to know the perspectives of different cultures and faith traditions. In this article the issue is explored from an Islamic perspective. Firstly, some basic information is given about Islam to explain how laws are drawn up and regulations made in this tradition. Secondly, the principles on which the laws and regulations are based are applied to stem cell research, and finally the permitted and prohibited methods of stem cell research are described. The discussions throughout the paper demonstrate that while some ethicists argue that stem cell research is unethical in the Islamic tradition, tradition permits it as long as such research is aimed at improving human health.

  • ESC, embryonic stem cell
  • IVF, in vitro fertilisation
  • stem cell research
  • Islamic medical ethics
  • medical law
  • moral status of embryo
  • genetics
  • ethics

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  • This paper was presented at the EUROSTEM Conference on Regulation and Legislation under conditions of Scientific Uncertainty in Bilbao, 2003 Mar 6–9.

  • Sahin Aksoy has a medical degree. After finishing his PhD on bioethics at the Centre for Social Ethics and Policy at the University of Manchester, in the United Kingdom, he was appointed as an associate professor and head of the department at Harran University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, Sanliurfa, Turkey. He has published papers and made presentations on various topics in bioethics both nationally and internationally. He currently edits the Turkiye Klinikleri Journal of Medical Ethics, Law and Medicine and the Journal of the International Society of the History of Islamic Medicine. He is also the vice president of Asian Bioethics Association.