France’s bioethical centralism

30 / 11 / 2020

We provide a deep analysis of the most recent bill aiming at updating French bioethical laws and we advocate to reverse their logic so that the individual’s control over its own body becomes the rule rather than the exception.


The ability for each one of us to have control over our own body is the bedrock of the liberal state, recognized by European laws, and yet it remains the exception in France.

Our society is often pictured as highly individualistic and prompt to whims, it is nevertheless the State which decides what is authorized or not when it comes to our physical integrity.

In France, the scope of public intervention is particularly illustrated by the prohibition of surrogacy or all the restrictions that apply to access to genetic data, to life termination as well as the disposal of one’s remains.

The human body becomes a space controlled by the public.

French bioethics regulations are in the sole hands of the State and handled by experts appointed by the administration. “Bioethics” has been cornered into a “biolaw” framework.

While French citizens are mainly in favour of progress brought by science, their actions are still constrained by what Daniel Borillo calls « medical paternalism ».

The new bill of bioethical laws promoted by the French Government does make significant bioethical progress, for example by guaranteeing access to assisted reproductive technology for all women or advanced research on embryonic cells, but the ideology of bioethical centralism remains firmly in the background.


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