World Congress

for freedom of scientific research

Review on freedom of scientific research in a set of countries

07/06/2009

On our request the Library of the European Parliament - DG Presidency kindly conducted a review of the regulatory environment in which researchers and health care professionals operate. This review is a first step towards the full implementation of the Final Declaration, namely "monitoring the state of freedom of research and care in the world, through an annual report, and a constant update of the comparison of laws and national policies". We requested to start from the following five countries: 1. Sweden 2. Poland 3. United Kingdom 4. United States 5. Italy Our goal was to research and measure in various countries around the world the freedom that relevant actors enjoy in engaging in a number of activities having to do with biomedical research and health care, mainly the following six areas of activities of researchers and health care professionals: (1) assisted reproduction technologies (ART); (2) research with human embryonic stem cells (hESC); (3) end-of-life decisions; (4) abortion and contraception (5) Therapeutic uses of narcotic drugs (6) Pain treatments In some instances, actions from any of these areas may be exercised only under certain conditions; in other instances, actions are prohibited or substantially limited, thus taking away the freedom to engage in such activities. In short, final country reports aim to provide a picture of the entire “enabling environment�? in which researchers and health care professionals operate freely. Checklist of methodological questions: A. Artificial reproduction technologies (ART) A.1. Is the prenatal genetic and/or observation diagnosis (PGD) permitted? A.2. Is the heterologous fertilization (donation of gametes, namely oocyte or sperm) permitted? A.3. Is the oocytes cryopreservation permitted? A.4. Is the assisted procreation permitted to people affected by genetic or viral diseases, single or homosexual pairs? B. Research with human embryonic stem cells(hESC) B.1. Can stem cells be taken from supernumerary embryos (embryos that were created for ART purposes and the source couple no longer need)? B.2. Can embryos be created for the purpose of generating stem cells to be used in research (through the somatic cell nuclear transfer technique)? B.3. Can stem cells be created through somatic cell nuclear transfer using non-human animal eggs (cybrid embryos)? C. End-of-life decisions C.1. Is a physician required to respect the patient’s refusal of life-sustaining treatment C.2. Is active euthanasia (taking positive steps to end life) lawful? C.3. Is physician-assisted suicide (patient ends own life with assistance of a physician) lawful? C.4. Are living will and/or advance directives enforceable? D. Abortion and contraception D.1. Is it legal for a pregnant woman to terminate a pregnancy? D.2. Is RU-486 (a drug used to induce pharmacological abortion) legally available to women? D.3. Are contraceptives available over the counter? D.4. Is the ‘morning-after pill’ (drug preventing implantation of an embryo in the uterus) legally available to women without prescription (over the counter)? E. Therapeutic uses of narcotic drugs E.1. Is the therapeutic use of cannabis lawful? E.2. Is therapeutic use of heroin lawful? E.3. Are heroin-equivalents available? F. Pain treatments F.1. Are pain treatments available? The present use of this information package is under the sole responsibility of Associazione Luca Coscioni.

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