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Public needs ongoing dialogue on HART

Public needs ongoing dialogue on Human Assisted Reproductive Technology

Human assisted reproductive technology issues will require ongoing public debate Toi te Taiao: the Bioethics Council told the Health Select Committee hearing into the Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) on the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology (HART) Bill today.

The Council supports the move to regulate the issues surrounding human assisted reproductive technology but expressed concern that the structure proposed under the SOP did not provide an explicit opportunity for significant ongoing public dialogue and risked creating bodies with overlapping roles.

The SOP proposes establishing a Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) reporting to the Minister of Health, while the Bioethics Council itself has the responsibility to provide independent advice to Government, through the Minister for the Environment, on the cultural, ethical and spiritual aspects of biotechnology, including those relating to reproductive technologies.

“The New Zealand Biotechnology Strategy reinforces the need for a whole-of-government approach to biotechnology, including human biotechnology and the more narrowly defined reproductive technologies,” said Council Chairman Sir Paul Reeves.

“As technologies progress, the boundaries between the types and impacts are blurring, and the technologies will not fit neatly into health and non-health, or human and environmental categories.

“This is recognised in the Council’s terms of reference, which include promoting and participating in public dialogue on the cultural, ethical and spiritual aspects of biotechnology and advising the Government on biotechnological issues of national importance.”

The Bioethics Council was developing a programme of dialogue on major biotechnology issues and was best placed to undertake dialogue on issues to do with the use of human assisted reproductive technology said Sir Paul.

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