Page URL:

French National Assembly votes to keep stem cell and embryo restrictions

31 May 2011
Appeared in BioNews 609

The French Parliament has voted to maintain current restrictions on human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research.

As part of a review of the country's bioethics regulations, the National Assembly voted 73 to 33 to maintain the status quo. The bill is now due to go before the Senate – for a second time – in June.

At the initial reading of the bill in February, the National Assembly supported the Government's more conservative, existing stance. But, in April, the Senate amended the bill to allow hESC research to be authorised in cases monitored by the National Biomedicine Agency.

While hESC research is banned in France, a 2004 amendment to the law governing science in this area allows researchers to obtain dispensation to undertake research that could lead to 'major therapeutic progress' for serious diseases without successful treatment.

Currently, research is only permitted using 'spare' embryos left over from IVF and on cell lines imported from other countries, created in the same conditions. Creating embryos for research purposes is prohibited. The Senate's amendments, rejected by the National Assembly, would have removed the need for special dispensation under the existing law.

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, head of the Catholic Church in France, said any liberalisation of the law would pave the way for 'state-sponsored eugenics'. However, many scientists are calling for the ban to be overturned, so that the need for special permission is dispensed with.

Dr Marc Peschanski, Director of I-STEM, a stem cell research organisation responsible for coordinating France's biomedical research, said the compromise reached in 2004 allowed scientists to continue conducting research, albeit under restrictions. But, he added, it left uncertainty over the regulatory status of hESCs in France, which is acting as a deterrent to foreign investment.

France set to uphold curbs on embryonic stem cells
Reuters |  26 May 2011
French lawmakers duel over human stem cell and embryo research
Nature News Blog |  26 May 2011
16 March 2015 - by Jessica Ware 
Poland's government has drafted legislation to regulate IVF in the country. If it becomes law, Poland will become one of the last countries in the European Union to legislate for assisted conception...
4 February 2013 - by James Brooks 
The French Justice Minister's instruction to courts to accept citizenship applications for children born via surrogates in other countries has unleashed a political and popular furore...
18 April 2011 - by Nisha Satkunarajah 
France's highest court has denied French citizenship to 10-year-old twins born to a French couple using a surrogate in the USA, reaffirming the country's ban on surrogacy...
14 February 2011 - by Rosemary Paxman 
France's parliament is to debate on whether current bioethics laws prohibiting research on human embryos should be eased....
29 March 2010 - by Professor Donna Dickenson 
'Certain countries in Europe, France in particular, are trying to resist the ultra-liberal individualist ideology of the reproductive market. It's too bad that some other countries have maintained a conspiracy of silence on that subject.' ...
4 July 2007 - by Sandy Starr 
It is essential that fertility regulation be standardised across Europe, according to Professor Paul Devroey of Brussels Free University. Speaking in Lyons, France at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology - of which he is chair - Professor Devroey made a provocative contribution...
14 July 2005 - by BioNews 
The Socialist government in Spain plans to introduce new legislation in September that would allow therapeutic cloning of human embryos for research purposes, according to its Health Minister, Elena Salgado. The new law will once again set the government against the Catholic Church in that country, further straining relations already...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.