New edition of Legislation on biotechnology in the Nordic countries
The report was first published in 2014, and has since gained the interest of practitioners, researchers and legal professionals in the Nordic countries and Europe in general.
“One of the committee’s tasks is to follow legislative developments in biotechnology in the Nordic countries, and we are very pleased that the two previous editions were so well received. Given the high pace of change in matters related to bioethics, we believe it is important to update this overview on an annual basis, for instance to promote understanding of the somewhat different laws on bioethical issues within the Nordic region,” says Arnar Pálsson, who is the 2016 Chair of the Nordic Committee on Bioethics and an associate professor at the Institute of Biology at the University of Iceland.
In recent years the committee has arranged conferences and published reports on topics as diverse as ethical perspectives on sexual identity and gender, reproductive technology and surrogacy, and ethical dilemmas relating to animal welfare.
The committee organised a meeting in 2015 on issues relating to the difficult decisions that the health care services face in cases when life-extending treatments come at high monetary cost.
“When a patient is diagnosed with a rare disorder or fatal disease, the health care services are to offer the best available treatment. But some medicines and treatments are very expensive, and the health care budget is finite, which means that the medical personnel have difficult decisions to make. There are strong moral grounds for not denying treatment on the basis of cost, but at the same time the public health care services have limited resources. How do we decide whom to treat and not treat? The Nordic countries have different practices and regulations for addressing these issues, and have called for more collaboration on this topic. We plan to revisit this in an upcoming meeting,” concludes Pálsson.
About the Nordic Committee on Bioethics
It was founded in 1989 to promote Nordic cooperation and exchange of information in the area of bioethics between scientists, parliamentarians, opinion leaders and public officials. The committee is made up of two members from each Nordic country. Members are nominated nationally and are appointed for a three-year term by the NordForsk Board. The committee selects its chair from among the members and the Chair rotates annually among the countries. The Nordic Committee on Bioethics has been administered under the auspices of NordForsk since 2014.
Text and photo: Tor Martin Nilsen