Panama 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 PANAMA* 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 INTRODUCTION With the help of the United States of America, Panama became a free country in 1903, seceding from Columbia. Panama is an extremely young country (especially when considering the fact that the United States is only a few hundred years old). Our first reaction while researching this country was that it was extremely radical and underdeveloped with poor healthcare and virtually no large hospitals. After digging deeper, we found that this is not the case in Panama. Although it is very young, Panama is on the verge of becoming aware that legislations match their moral values. In May of 2001, Panama established a National Commission on Bio-safety and Bioethics, charged with the drafting of bills pertaining to genetic bio-safety, stem cell research therapy and cloning. This is one of the first steps Panama has taken in regards to establishing a systematic process where bioethical issues can be discussed. We consider it a giant leap forward for the country as a whole in dealing with bioethical issues that will surely arise in greater numbers in the future. Although some health care issues are restricted, the government has not yet established a position and even requirements and limits on many issues. This opens a vacuum of opportunity for private companies to practice without fear of legal retribution, and with minimal (if any) specific requirements or guidelines. A. Artificial reproduction technologies (ART) Many of Panamas healthcare issues are in the same category as prenatal genetic diagnosis which has no specific legislation of its own. When specific legislation is absent there are no laws restricting freedom. As a result private companies are able to have unlimited restrictions which directly maximize their freedoms. Panama is a very bipolar country in terms of regulation, either something is specifically prohibited or there are no laws, creating a viable market for the private industry. B. Research with human embryonic stem cells (hESC) (Remark 1: According to UNESCO “REPORT OF IBC ON HUMAN CLONING AND INTERNATIONAL GOVERNANCE�? of June 2009, Penal code, introduced by law n°14 of 18 May 2007 and its modifications introduced by Law 26 of 2008, regulates reproductive cloning as follows: “Article 145: Anyone who fecundates human ovums with a distinct aim than procreation will be sanctioned from six to ten years of prison. This sanction can increase up to half of the maximum punishment for using genetic manipulation to create identical human being by means of cloning or any other procedure�?. Familial code article 489 issued by law n°3 of 17 May 1994 provides: “Every minor has the right to: 1. His prenatal protection�?. Comment by UNESCO: An embryo is interpreted as a human beings. Law n°3 prohibits all forms of cloning and stating other provisions of 15 January 2004: “Article 1: All kind of promotion, financing or donation as well as the use of public or private funds to experiments, investigate and perform any form of cloning a human beings, meaning the creation of an embryo being the biological duplication of a human beings based on his DNA structure, is forbidden. Article 3: Whoever violate the provisions of this law will be sanctioned to a 1.000.000 Balboas fine (1000$)�?. Familial code article 489 issued by law n°3 of 17 May 1994 also regulates therapeutic cloning: “Article 2: Without prejudice to the previous article, it is allowed to reproduce tissues to repair organs in a therapeutic view, for prevention and to cure diseases, by using umbilical cord of birth babies or by any mean or method that could be developed, only in his favour, in his family’s favour or in a third party’s benefit.[…] Tissues reproduction is allowed as long as it doesn’t imply to create a human beings and it is out of lucrative interests for the person who grant his consent�?). C. End-of-life decisions No data. D. Abortion and contraception (Remark 2: According to the report “Abortion Worldwide: A Decade of Uneven Progress�? by the Guttmacher Institute, 2009, Panama permits induced abortion only when the woman’s life is threatened and does so in cases of rape or foetal abnormality. Actual implementation of these exceptions, however, appears to be rare). Panama aims to become established as a country with moral standards which is evident by the formation of the National Commission on Bio-safety and Bioethics. In the meantime, they aim to adopt the regulations and recommendations stated by the World Health Organization so that hopefully, one day soon, their moral values will be mirrored in Panamanian legislation. *(Panama 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