Cultural heritage may have influenced views on life, consciousness, etc. Does it mean that bioethics is different in different countries? And does it mean that e.g. in Israel (Jewish culture) it is possible to carry out experiments forbidden in India (Hindu culture)?

More generally: How do bioethics vary in different countries?

  • Please follow this procedure to merge your accounts so that you'll be able to edit your own question, and comment on the answers.
    – ff524
    Sep 13, 2015 at 19:18

2 Answers 2


The short answer to your question is yes, there are differences in local laws related to bioethical concerns in different countries (and even different states in the same country).

For example, consider the difference in local laws related to stem cell research. According to Wikipedia (I don't know how up-to-date this is):

These laws have been the source of much controversy and vary significantly by country. In the European Union, stem cell research using the human embryo is permitted in Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Greece, Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands; however, it is illegal in Germany, Austria, Ireland, Italy, and Portugal. The issue has similarly divided the United States, with several states enforcing a complete ban and others giving financial support. Elsewhere, Japan, India, Iran, Israel, South Korea, China, and Australia are supportive. However, New Zealand, most of Africa (except South Africa), and most of South America (except Brazil) are restrictive.

More broadly, the International Compilation of Human Research Standards (compiled by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) lists relevant laws and guidelines on human subjects research around the world.


does it mean that e.g. in Israel (Jewish culture) it is possible to carry out experiments forbidden in India (Hindu culture)?

Civic and legislative systems are highly complex, as are the degrees and the ways in which they are affected by cultural and religious influences. So reducing Israel to "Jewish culture" and India to "Hindu culture" is not a particularly useful way to reason about what is permissible in each country.


It does not, since the fundamental ethical desideratum is whether the research subject understands what you are doing to them, and can freely decide whether to participate. It would not be unethical per se to have Jewish subjects eat pork, as long as they understand that is what they would be doing, and have the capacity to make a decision (e.g. comprehend the language, have adult mental capacity, are not coerced). There could be a factual interaction between local law and ethical considerations, for example participation in a particular experiment in a certain country could, by law, threaten the well-being of the subject because of oppressive laws in that country, in which case the case could be covered under the rubric of excessive risk, but the relevant consideration isn't religious or cultural differences, it is what the local laws and related risks are.

  • 1
    it is what the local laws... are - It's my understanding that the question asks whether some countries have differences in the local laws related to biomedical experimentation due to cultural differences. As far as I can tell, this doesn't answer the question.
    – ff524
    Sep 13, 2015 at 21:19
  • That isn't what the question asks: perhaps that was what the OP had in mind, but there's no mention of law.
    – user6726
    Sep 13, 2015 at 21:47

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