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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:

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 protectionlaw (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

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:

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 homogenizationofdiscourse (comparingitwith UK/US) :

  • Imputingthecriticsthattheyarguewith „designerbabies“ anddecomposingthiscritique
  • Emotional mediapolicieswith individual cases
  • Strong individualisticreproductivechoicediscourse
  • Case bycasedecisionmakinginsteadofpoliciesguidedbyprinciples (against legal German tradition)


questionofembryostorageandresearchasconsequenceofthelaw (whathappenstothe „threerule“)



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