World Congress

for freedom of scientific research

Freedom of research in SPAIN - Country report and synoptic table


Spain was surveyed by the students of Bryant University, RI, USA. Last update: March 2009. Any peer review of data is welcome.

Monitoring freedom of research and cure in SPAIN* Table of content: A. Artificial reproduction technologies (ART) B. Research with human embryonic stem cells (hESC) C. End-of-life decisions D. Abortion and contraception A. Artificial reproduction technologies (ART) There is much controversy in Spain regarding contraception, artificial insemination and stem cell research. Under law many artificial reproduction procedures are legal such as prenatal genetic diagnosis and cryopreservation of both sperm and embryos for future use, though there are many limiting factors. For example there is a maximum of three oocytes allowed to be fertilized per cycle in the artificial insemination process. Also in the case of surrogate motherhood Spain does not allow for the commercial promotion of individuals; this procedure is only allowed when the surrogate mother does not receive a fee. B. Research with human embryonic stem cells (hESC) In the discussion of using human embryonic stem cells in research, it is found that through recent law changes Spain does allow research to be done, though it is highly regulated by the national government. An example of government regulation is that all research must be supervised by the government and many experiments must be submitted prior to their conduction. Spain’s government also proposed the creation of a catalogue of donors of human embryonic stem cells that kept track of the donors along with the consent for the use of the HESC’s. (Remark no. 1: According to UNESCO “REPORT OF IBC ON HUMAN CLONING AND INTERNATIONAL GOVERNANCE�? of June 2009, Article 26 of Law n° 14 on assisted reproductive techniques of 23 May 2006 provides the following Infractions: “c. Very serious infractions […] 9. The practice of nuclear transfer within a reproductive purpose�?. There are also some penal code provisions introduced by organic law n°15/2003 of 23 November 2003, namely: “Article 160: 2. Whoever fertilizes a human egg for another purpose than human procreation will be punished by a penalty of 1 to 5 years imprisonment and a special incapacity for public or office employment for 6 to 10 years. 3. The same penalties are applied for the creation of identical human beings by cloning or other procedures directed at racial selection Law N° 14/2007 on biomedical research of 3 July 2007. Comment: Originally, law n°35/1988 on assisted Human Reproduction prohibited human reproductive cloning in its article 20 paragraph 2B k) until organic law n°10/1 995 suppressed this provision. Then, organic law n°15/2 003 replaced this prohibition on Spanish penal code as above mentioned. These changes are the result of a Constitutional Court decision n°116/1999 of 16 June 1999. Finally, law n°35/1988 has been abrogated and replaced by law n°14/2006. Research cloning on supernumerary embryos is allowed under the terms of articles 15 and 16 on the use of pre-embryos for investigations and conservation and use of pre-embryos for investigations respectively. Article 33 (“Procurement of embryonic cells�?) states that: (1) The creation of human pre-embryos and embryos solely for experimental purposes shall be prohibited. (2) The use of any technique for obtaining human stem cells for therapeutic or research purposes, including the activation of oocytes through nuclear transfer, shall be permitted under the terms laid down in this Law, provided that it does not entail the creation of a preembryo or embryo solely for this purpose�?. Comment: Research cloning is allowed). C. End-of-life decisions As for end of life decisions the government has given the patient the right to refuse life sustaining treatment. In circumstances where the patient is not in the right mind of state to make the decision then the right is passed along to their closest parents or relative. While it is a patient’s right to refuse treatment it is not permissible to take part in active euthanasia or physician assisted suicide. D. Abortion and contraception Spain has many laws regulating both contraception and abortion. Though contraception can only be received through prescriptions and is not available over the counter. In cases where a minor is involved there must be parental consent. Recent law has made the “Morning after Pill�? available via prescription to individuals including minors. (Remark no. 2: the law on abortion was changed in Spain after the making of this country report by the students of Bryant University. According to in February 2010 the Spain Parliament approved the final version of a new law that expanded abortions and provides no parental consent for teenagers wanting abortions. Under the bill, abortions are allowed for any reason to 14 weeks, they are allowed up to 22 weeks if an abortion practitioner certifies a serious threat to the health of the mother, or says the unborn child is disabled. Beyond 22 weeks, abortions are only allowed in serious cases of foetal disability and in cases where the pregnancy threatens the mother's life.) Many of the researched topics are legal in Spain, though the government has heavy regulation and involvement in the use of contraceptives, stem cells, and artificial insemination. There is enough freedom to perform experimentation and to conduct certain operations such as abortion; it is just to the extent to which you may do these things that is limited in Spain. *(Spain was surveyed by the students of Bryant University, RI, USA. Last update: March 2009. Little remarks have been added. Any peer review of data is welcome) Missing info on: E. Therapeutic uses of narcotic drugs F. Pain treatments

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