Comparative Country Experience: Germany Politics of internationalization/normalization
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Comparative Country Experience: Germany Politics of internationalization/normalization The case of PGD Susanne Schultz, Gen-ethical Network/Berlin. Background: Politics of „ normalization “ of German politics since 1989

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Comparative Country Experience: Germany Politics of internationalization/normalizationThe case of PGDSusanne Schultz, Gen-ethical Network/Berlin


Politics of „normalization“ of German politicssince 1989

Political traditionline: leftist-feminist-antieugenicposition in favourofabortionrights, againstselectionandeugenics

(Influential in: abolitionof „embryopathicindication“, debate on Bioethicsconvention, parliamentarianinquirycommission on PGD andstemcellresearch 2000+)

Case of pgd law reform
Case of PGD law reform: internationalization/normalization

7 of July of 2011 Federal Parliament (Bundestag) voted for legalization of PGD

Most permissive law proposal approved: on the base of ethics commission and restricted to the detection of „severe conditions“

Before: One year debate after Supreme Court decision in favour of physician who had denounced himself of having applied PGD

Incoherent reinterpretation of the Embryo Protection Law (1991)

The Embryo internationalization/normalizationprotectionlaw (1990)

allowstoproduce not morethan 3 embryos in vitro in onecyclewiththeonlypurposetoimplantthem in thewombofthewomanfromwhomtheoocyteswereextracted.

´Legal reinterpretation:

  • PGD usespluri- not totipotentcells

  • PGD producesmorethan 3 embryos but physiciansarecalculatingthatpartofthem will be „non viable“

Main Lines of debate and shifts since 2000 internationalization/normalization

Debate during milennium change:

Main dichotomy: Status of the embryo as human being versus scientific progress (in the light of stem cell research) + reproductive choice

But also Parliamentarian influence of antieugenic/feminist/disabled people movement arguments

Main lines of arguments 2010/2011 internationalization/normalization:

Conservative embryo protection (with leading figure, chancellor Merkel) and less prominent feminist/antieugenic coalition (Reprokult feminist experts, Gen-ethical network, welfare organizations for disabled people did declarations, but less movement based)

-> more difficult for progressive critique

New lines of arguments based on internationalization and normalization
New lines of arguments based on internationalization and normalization

  • Cross border PGD treatment (Czech republic, Belgium, Spain)

  • Using international statistics about small numbers of PGD treatments against slippery slope argument

  • European Court for Human Rights decision-making – Italian couple against prohibition of PGD („discrimination“ comparing with other IVF services, similar to decision on egg donation in Austria)

  • Normalization of PND as argument for PGD

International normalization homogenizationofdiscourse (comparingitwith UK/US) :

  • Imputingthecriticsthattheyarguewith „designerbabies“ anddecomposingthiscritique

  • Emotional mediapolicieswith individual cases

  • Strong individualisticreproductivechoicediscourse

  • Case bycasedecisionmakinginsteadofpoliciesguidedbyprinciples (against legal German tradition)


    questionofembryostorageandresearchasconsequenceofthelaw (whathappenstothe „threerule“)

Conclusion normalization :

Old challenge: hegemonicframe - statusoftheembryo versus progressive pro-scienceposition

New challenges:

  • Tendencytowardsstrongerimpactofcomparisonwithother (Western and permissive) national policies , argumentationwithnormalizationof PGD (in reproductivetourism) and PND, ethicizationascasebycasedecision-making

  • Marginalizationofcoherent legal policiesbased on generalprinciples, marginalizationofdebate on embryoresearch, on implicationsoftechnologies in a broader sense,

  • Critiqueofeugenicsdiscreditedasold-fashionedand not adequateanymore