The New Belgian Law on Biobanks: Some Comments From an Ethical Perspective
Van Assche, Kristof
Health care analysis : HCA : journal of health philosophy and policy 2011 Sep; 19(3): 247-58
On 19 December 2008 the Official Journal of Belgium published the 'Law regarding the procurement and use of human body material destined for human medical applications or for scientific research purposes'. This paper will comment on various aspects of the Law: its scope of application (what is understood by 'body material'?); its concept of 'residual human body material' (with far-reaching implications for the type of consent required for research); the nature of actions with and uses of human body material that are explicitly prohibited; the right of donors to be informed of relevant information revealed by the use of their body material; and the special responsibilities placed on hospital ethics committees. As will be argued in this paper, several of these provisions are highly problematic from an ethical point of view, especially those relating to consent. Meanwhile, the Minister of Public Health has asked the Belgian Advisory Committee on Bioethics for advice on the incorporation of the 'presumed consent' model, that applies to post mortem organ donation, into the biobank Law's provisions on post mortem removal and use of body material. This aspect of the Law effectively extends the 'presumed consent' regime, both from organs to body material in general, and from therapeutic uses to research uses.
Bioethics; Biobanks; Consent; Donors; Ethics; Ethics Committees; Health; Human Body; Hospital Ethics Committees; Law; Nature; Organ Donation; Presumed Consent; Public Health; Research; Responsibilities; Truth-telling; Genetics, Molecular Biology and Microbiology; Informed Consent or Human Experimentation; Information Science Ethics;
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