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Human Embryo Gene Editing in China: The Uncertain Legal Status of the Embryo

Authors
  • Jiang, Li1, 2
  • Rosemann, Achim3, 4
  • 1 Soochow University, Kenneth Wang School of Law, Suzhou, People’s Republic of China , Suzhou (China)
  • 2 Jiang Su University Regional Regulation Development Collaborative Innovation Center, Jiang Su, Nan Jing, People’s Republic of China , Nan Jing (China)
  • 3 University of Warwick, Department of Sociology, Coventry, UK , Coventry (United Kingdom)
  • 4 University of Sussex, Centre for Bionetworking, School of Global Studies, Brighton, UK , Brighton (United Kingdom)
Type
Published Article
Journal
BioSocieties
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan UK
Publication Date
Mar 23, 2018
Volume
14
Issue
1
Pages
46–66
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1057/s41292-018-0116-1
Source
Springer Nature
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

In this article, we examine processes of ethical deliberation, legislative developments, and social and political factors that have contributed to the emergence of human embryo gene editing as a field of life science research in China. For this purpose, we examine conceptions of the legal status of the human embryo in three domains of China’s legal system: in patent law, in the jurisdictional domain of birth control, and in civil law. Each of these legal domains handles a different conception of the human embryo’s moral and legal status, and in all three the embryo’s status is contested and subject to changes. Our findings suggest that definitions of the legal status of the human embryo in China are at present in the midst of a renegotiation progress, which is driven by a variety of developments and causes. In this paper, we focus on three types of controversies that underlie this renegotiation process and we illustrate the conflicting aspirations, ethical arguments, and moral priorities that inform these conflicts. We end this article with three lines of consideration that might structure future studies on this issue.

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