Medical ethics in France: The latest great political debate
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The American term Bioethics has been adopted over the last ten years and the development of Bioethics committees on the American model testifies this influence, even before the official appointment of a National Committee in 1983. This phenomenon acknowledged as the “emergence of French bioethics” is in fact the final outcome of a long-lasting crisis in the medical profession, in quest for a new style of ethics, breaking with the traditional professional ethics (French Déontologie, through the Ordre des Médecins). Among other factors of conceptual and institutional change, the increase of biomedical research comes first: a major consequence is the sharing of moral responsibilities in decision-making with outsider scientists and finally the involvement of the whole population as potential moral subjects.
The designation of these events as the emergence of French bioethics is hardly appropriate for an account of this dramatic shift in ethical norms and roles in medicine. This paper attempts to review the intellectual roots of the recent evolution and to summarize present and prospective trends.
Key wordsBioethical situations Deontology Experimentation Ordre des médecins
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