A stringent legal infrastructure system is needed first
Center for Democracy in Science and Technology at People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) has continuously argued for the past years that the bill should be enacted in the society, and played a role in the creation of Korean Bioethics Advisory Commission as a main body to review specifically the skeleton. In addition, at the beginning point PSPD urged the government not to appoint as the Commission members the two designated hard line figures in biomedical field who have invaded the ethically forbidden area, and it eventually worked out.
When it comes to the law, ethics controversy on embryonic experiment fully dominated the debate all over the world. Great difference in Korea, however, lies in the urgent introduction of legal infrastructure such as scientific control of embryos, and prohibition on artificial insemination is strongly recommended prior to debate ethics issue. In fact, civil groups including PSPD reassured that the government need to be aware of that those infrastructure equipments should come first.
Besides PSPD, other advocates on the bill are anti-abortionists, several associations of animal right protection, women’s groups, and religious groups. These alliances hailed the framework, and argued that experiments on embryonic stem cells would result in cognitive confusion in the society by killing a growing human life. In reaction to scientists’ argument, they told scientific advance should be achieved on the basis of widespread consent of life-respecting philosophy. Even those groups predict that much more cost in the future will be accompanied when and if the life-destroying research is permitted.
Meanwhile a counterattack came from scientists who argued the framework of the Commission would hamper a great stride in scientific and medical field. They agreed that human embryonic experiments could save tens of thousands lives by curing many disorders, and criticized the Commission’s decision that its regulation-oriented attitude would make scientists indifferent in doing research for saving lives.
On the other hand, the Federation of Korean Industries, the most influential business association in the country, released a statement in which the association had a pessimistic attitude toward the guidelines. The statement suggested that more authority to research on human embryos should be given to scientists to achieve significant scientific and medical advance which is a key project field now in the country.
What about National Assembly, which is one of the most meaningful forces in deciding if the contents of the bill ultimately work out or not?
When asked if the bill’s potential passage in National Assembly, some influential congressmen from the Science, Technology, Information and Telecommunication Committee which is in charge of reviewing the bill, responded that they are skeptical about that, and it would meet a great challenge during the reviewing process in the Congress.
Congressmen would not vote in favor of the bill if the future one is shared the same idea with that of the current framework, they added. They are concerned that the guideline is overly slanted to ethnic issues and missed a serious review of other competing economic priority.
Intrinsic competing priorities plunge the debate into impasse
The framework is scheduled to turn in to the Ministry of Science and Technology this month, and the Ministry will review the entire contents in detail to complete the bill. The Ministry plans to submit the bill to National Assembly during the upcoming session in September.
No one knows to where the polarized debate goes and to what extent experiments on human embryos will be allowed during the rest of law making process. One clear thing at this point, however, is no matter what the compromise it may be, a fierce challenge from the party who lost the game will remain.
By Hyunkyung Kang email@example.com