Bioethics Governance in Israel: An Expert Regime
Indian journal of medical ethics 2011 Jul-Sep; 8(3): 157-60
This paper provides an overview of bioethics governance in Israel through an analytical description of the legal framework for the interface between individuals and biomedical practices. There is no national agency with general oversight of bioethics policy and decision making, and the rules that apply to individual usage of biomedical technologies are laid down in a multitude of different statutes, regulations and administrative directives. Expert committees play a central role in this regulatory system in two capacities: as governmental advisory bodies that recommend policy; and as decision-making bodies that resolve conflicts around patients' rights or grant individual access to biomedical technologies. This decentralised system of governance through expert committees allows for adaptation to dynamic technological developments and flexibility in accommodating creative societal usage. At the same time the experts are the agents of the state's bio-power at the expense of personal autonomy and open public deliberation. The paper is part of a larger study investigating Israel's bioethics governance and its regime of experts, which includes an examination of the normative level of regulation, and an analysis of the composition of the expert committees. Our findings suggest that Israel has a decentralised system of governance with piecemeal regulation that has established a bioethics technocracy, governed by the ministry of health and dominated by the medical profession. The present paper is confined to a description and discussion of the legal framework of Israel's expert bioethics regime. Here, our major conclusion is that Israel has established a technocracy of official expert ethics committees, which controls life and death decisions.
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