Public Engagement and Deliberation in Human Embryo Research Governance in Australia 2001–2011
This chapter identifies and evaluates Australian processes for developing policy with regard to embryo research, including the legislative process, the work of a legislative review committee, parliamentary debates, and the production of the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for such research. We examine various mechanisms used during each of these policymaking stages to engage various publics, and the procedures for balancing conflicting values, which were particularly evident given the strong promotion of biotechnology investment by government side by side with vigorous opposition to certain technologies by segments of the Australian community. We explore the ethical and democratic challenges posed by developments in embryo research as well as various difficulties that arose in engaging the Australian public during these policymaking processes, whether these might prove to be impediments to the development of justifiable and legitimate life sciences research policy in Australia, and what the future prospects are for productive and meaningful public engagement in these contentious areas.
KeywordsPolicymaking Embryo research Australian legislation Research guidelines Public engagement Deliberation
This research was supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant “Big Picture Bioethics: Policy-Making and Liberal Democracy”, (DP0556068); research assistance by Fiona Mackenzie, Kerry Ross, Eliza Goddard, and Cobi Smith is gratefully acknowledged.
Versions of parts of this paper were previously published as
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