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Norway proposes law overturning stem cell research ban

[JURIST] The government of Norway has proposed new legislation that would allow embryonic stem cell research [JURIST news archive] to potentially find cures for various diseases. Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services Silvia Brustad [official website, English version] said late last week that the government hoped researchers could use the stem cells to find potential cures for AIDS, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Under current Norwegian law, fertilized eggs or stem cells are not able to be used in research, and eggs created for artificial insemination must be destroyed. Brustad said passing the legislation would bring Norway more in line with other European nations, including Germany, Italy and Slovenia, which approved [JURIST report] an EU research budget to fund stem cell research last year.

The proposed legislation would require consent from parents before stem cells are used for research and also requires a national ethics panel to approve the research before it commences. The legislation would also prohibit the fertilization of eggs specifically for research; only extra embryos of poor quality produced through in vitro fertilization [Wikipedia backgrounder] or extras that have been stored for over five years may be used. The ruling coalition currently has the necessary majority to pass the legislation, but it is unknown whether any lawmakers from the Labour, Center or Socialist parties will oppose the controversial amendment. AP has more.

Last year Australia lifted its restrictions on stem cell research [JURIST report] and also approved the therapeutic cloning of human embryos. In the United States, the House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this month which would amend the Public Health Service Act to allow for additional embryonic stem cell research [JURIST report]. The White House has promised to veto the bill. President Bush vetoed an earlier embryonic stem cell research bill [JURIST report] last summer.

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