6 Colum. Sci. & Tech. L. Rev. 1 (2004-2005)

handle is hein.journals/cstlr6 and id is 1 raw text is: The Columbia
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY LAW REVIEW
www.stlr.org
REGULATING REPRODUCTIVE GENETICS: A REVIEW OF AMERICAN BIOETHICS
COMMISSIONS AND COMPARISON TO THE BRITISH HUMAN FERTILISATION AND
EMBRYOLOGY AUTHORITY*
Margaret Foster Riley with Richard A. Merrill
Many people are now advocating expanded government regulation of
research and clinical use of reproductive technologies. Although many of these
technologies have been in use or anticipated for more than twenty-five years, and
a number of bioethics commissions have considered regulation of them, efforts to
develop broad national regulation have largely failed. This article examines the
role that government institutions can play and have played in designing regulation
of assisted reproduction and reproductive technologies. We review the history of
national commissions as proponents and architects of regulation and explore how
their structure, mission, and political placement have influenced their success or
failure. We then compare the experience of the United States to that of Great
Britain which established the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority
(HFEA) in 1990 and consider whether the HFEA might be a model for future
regulation in the United States. We conclude that bioethics commissions can play
an important role in formulating policy but they cannot create necessary political
consensus if that consensus is lacking. Moreover, while the United States can
glean important lessons from the British experience, the two countries' political,
legal, and medical cultures differ in ways that suggest importation of the British
model would be difficult and perhaps unwise.
I. INTRODUCTION
Many lawyers, political scientists, and bioethicists now advocate expanded government
regulation of research and clinical use of reproductive technologies. Reproductive technologies
employ the techniques used to create, use and manipulate embryos. These methods may be
* This paper was commissioned by the Genetics & Public Policy Center at Johns Hopkins University, which is
supported by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The opinions expressed are those of the authors.
Margaret Foster Riley is a Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. Richard A. Merrill
is the Daniel Caplin Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law.

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