Legal and Ethical Issues in Stem Cell Research in South Africa

  • Hennie Oosthuizen
Reference work entry


The use of stem cells in research and therapeutic treatment procedures involves both legal and ethical aspects. The law and medical ethics walk hand in hand in this regard. The tremendous advances in biomedical research, as well as developments in new treatment procedures, are contributing to more and more successes in the healing process. A consequence of these new biomedical techniques and treatments is that the law, and especially legislative requirements, cannot keep up with such techniques and treatments. Legislation recently came in force in South Africa to regulate the use of stem cells in research and the therapeutic treatment of patients. The South African Parliament promulgated the National Health Act 61 of 2003 a few years ago, but only recently came into effect. These sections permit therapeutic cloning of human stem cells and, allow the therapeutic cloning of human stem cells to be used to benefit patients and to assist practitioners. The legal and ethical aspects concerning the use of stem cells in research and the therapeutic treatment of patients form the basis of this chapter. The discussion will include aspects such as stem cells and from where they are derived, patient’s rights to choose to make use of stem cell therapy, informed consent for medical treatment, the recognition of novel treatment procedures, the practitioner’s scope of practice, and legislative control.


Stem Cell Umbilical Cord Blood Treatment Procedure Human Embryonic Stem Cell Stem Cell Therapy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This chapter is an updated version of an article The use of stem cells in therapeutic treatment procedures: Legal and ethical aspects published in Obiter, 2010, Volume 31, Number 3, 294-605.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminal and Medical Law, Faculty of LawUniversity of the Free State (UFS)BloemfonteinSouth Africa

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