The aim of this dissertation is to examine and analyse the judicial framework with regard to embryonic stem cell research and cloning in South Africa. The examination is conducted within the framework of the South African and United Kingdom's legal systems. Focus is placed on aspects of medical law, human rights law as envisaged in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, and the law of persons. The specific focus of this dissertation is to examine the intense debate on the moral and legal status of the embryo and fetus in South Africa. A comparative study is undertaken, with the United Kingdom as a background against which recommendations for the South African framework are made. The study firstly provides a clinical overview of stem cell research and cloning. Secondly, the concept of life, in particular human life; the protection of the embryo and fetus under the constitutional guarantee of the right to life, among other constitutionally protected rights, are examined. In this context, the most important finding is that although the fetus is not a bearer of constitutional rights the state has a constitutional duty to protect fetal life in terms of an objective value system. Thereby, the state is permitted to regulate abortion, fetal tissue research, and embryo research to protect fetal life. In particular, the aim of this dissertation is to present a critical summary of the major debates and policy responses relating to embryonic stem cell research and cloning techniques, drawing attention to some of the challenges posed by conflicting moral values in an era of global scientific endeavour, and to provide an analysis of the key ethical and regulatory implications for stem cell therapy. The most important findings are that current South African legislation remains fragmented and ineffective in the manner in which embryonic stem cell research and cloning are regulated. This finding leads to a summary of recommendations, which attempts to provide specific remedies in order to adapt the current regulatory framework in South Africa.
Dissertation (LLM (Public Law))--University of Pretoria, 2007.