The Legal Regulation of Medical Science
Posted: 21 May 2002
Recent developments in reproductive technology have stimulated widespread public debate and controversy, especially regarding the social, ethical, moral and legal implications of in vitro fertilization and human embryo experimentation. These issues have received a great deal of public attention in Australia over the past two decades. Some jurisdictions have implemented legislation to regulate and prohibit aspects of medical science. This discussion examines the emergence and career of the Infertility (Medical Procedures) Act 1984 in Australia and its regulation of embryo experimentation. The central argument is that law neither simply reacts to scientific developments nor merely reflects alleged community values, but actively constitutes and defines the boundaries of medical science. This fluidity or flexibility provides medical scientists with opportunities to make claims for the legitimate right to undertake certain experiments free from the interference of non-scientists. The controversy surrounding embryo experimentation highlights the ambiguities in distinguishing the proper sphere of science from ethical and legal jurisdictions.
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