Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 3, Issue 1–2, pp 95–107 | Cite as

Regulation of hESC Research in Australia: Promises and Pitfalls for Deliberative Democratic Approaches

Article

Abstract

This paper considers the legislative debates in Australia that led to the passage of the Research Involving Human Embryos Act (Cth 2002) and the Prohibition of Human Cloning Act (Cth 2002). In the first part of the paper, we discuss the debate surrounding the legislation with particular emphasis on the ways in which demands for public consultation, public debate and the education of Australians about the potential ethical and scientific impact of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) research were deployed, and the explicit and implicit framing of the scope of public consultation. We then ask whether, given the calls for public consultations, debate and understanding, current work in democratic theory could be helpful in analysing the process of policy-making in these areas. In particular, we canvass the literature relating to aggregative and deliberative models of democracy for processes that support the legitimacy of policy. We identify features of the debate that reflect the appeal of deliberative approaches as well as some of the possible hurdles or limitations to developing deliberative democratic approaches to policy in ethically contentious areas.

Keywords

Stem cell transplantation Bioethics Embryo research Public policy 

References

  1. 1.
    Andrews, K. (chair) (2001). House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Human cloning: Scientific, ethical and regulatory aspects of human cloning and stem cell research. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Arrow, K. J. (1951). Social choice and individual values, 2nd edition. New York: Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC) & National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (1998). Scientific, ethical and regulatory considerations relevant to cloning human beings. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC), National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) & Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC) (2003). Essentially yours: The protection of human genetic information in Australia. Sydney: Australian Law Reform Commission.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Benhabib, S. (2002). The claims of culture: Equality and diversity in the global era. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bohman, J. (1998). Survey article: The coming of age of deliberative democracy. The Journal of Political Philosophy, 6, 400–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Canadian Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies (CRCNRT) (1993). Proceed with care: Final report of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies. Ottawa: Government of Canada.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Chalmers, D. (2002). Professional self-regulation and guidelines in assisted reproduction. Journal of Law and Medicine, 9, 414–428.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Council of Australian Governments (COAG). Communique of meeting held on June 8, 2001. [Cited 2006 April 24]. Available from: http://coag.gov.au/meetings/080601/index.htm.
  10. 10.
    COAG. Communique of meeting held on April 5, 2002. [Cited 2006 April 24]. Available from: http://coag.gov.au/meetings/050402/index.htm
  11. 11.
    Dryzek, J. S. (2000). Deliberative democracy and beyond: liberals, critics, contestations. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Elster, J. (1998). Introduction. In J. Elster (Ed.), Deliberative democracy (pp. 1–18). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Fishkin, J. S. (2002). Deliberative democracy. In R. L. Simon (Ed.), The Blackwell guide to social and political philosophy (pp. 221–238). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Fishkin, J. S. (1995). The voice of the people: Public opinion and democracy. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Gambetta, D. (1998). ‘Claro!’: An essay on discursive machismo. In J. Elster (Ed.), Deliberative democracy (pp. 19–43). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    GenEthics Network. Submission to the Senate Committee on the bill to regulate research involving embryos, October 2002. [Cited 2005 May 14]. Available from http://www.geneethics.org/community/modules.php?name=Sections&op=viewarticle&artid=21.
  17. 17.
    Gutmann, A, & Thompson, D. (2003). Deliberative democracy beyond process. In J. S. Fishkin, & P. Laslett (Eds.), Debating deliberative democracy (pp. 31–53). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Habermas, J. (1975). Legitimation crisis. Boston: Beacon.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Habermas, J. (1996). Three normative models of democracy. In S. Benhabib (Ed.), Democracy and difference (pp. 21–30). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hall, W. (2004). The Australian policy debate about human embryonic stem cell research. Health Law Review, 12, 27–33.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Harvey, O. (2005). Regulating stem-cell research and human cloning in an Australian context: An exercise in protecting the status of the human subject. New Genetics and Society, 24, 125–136.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Irwin, A. (1995). Citizen science: A study of people, expertise and sustainable development. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Knowles, S. (chair) (2002). The Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee. Provisions of the Research involving Human Embryos and Prohibition of Human Cloning Bill 2002 [Selection of Bills Committee of Inquiry]. Canberra: Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Lockhart, J. S. (chair) (2005). Legislation Review Committee. Issues paper: outline of existing legislation and issues for public consultation [Legislation Review of Australia's Prohibition of Human Cloning Act 2002 and Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002]. Canberra: Biotext.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Mansbridge, J. (1980). Beyond adversary democracy. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Miller, D. (2003). Deliberative democracy and social choice. In J. S. Fishkin & P. Laslett (Eds.), Debating deliberative democracy (pp. 182–199). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (1996). Ethical guidelines on assisted reproductive technology. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    NHMRC (1999). National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Research Involving Humans. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Nicol, D., Chalmers, D., & Gogarty, B. (2002). Regulating biomedical advances: Embryonic stem cell research. Macquarie Law Journal, 2:31–59.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Rawls, J. (1971). A theory of justice. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Sunstein, C. R. (2003). The law of group polarization. In J. S. Fishkin & P. Laslett (Eds.), Debating deliberative democracy (pp. 80–101). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Tate, M. (chair) (1986). Senate Select Committee on the Human Embryo Experimentation Bill 1985, Parliament of Australia. Human embryo experimentation in Australia. Canberra: Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Waldron, J. (1993). Liberal rights: Collected papers 1981–1991. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Young, I. M. (1990) Justice and the politics of difference. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Young, I. M. (2000). Inclusion and democracy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of English Literatures, Philosophy and LanguagesUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Unit for History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations