The phases of the French Bioethics Law Revision


The process includes 3 major phases, with some partially overlapping dates on the timetable. The first two correspond to the French “National Consultations on Bioethics” as specified by the July 7, 2011 law. 1) The phase for public debates 2) The phase for the national organizations’ reports 3) The phase for drafting the law

I – The phase for public debates: January to April-May 2018

During this phase the population will be consulted: citizens, associations, scholarly groups, various local organizations, etc.
A) National website
In early 2018, the website should be launched to allow every public citizen an opportunity to express his opinions and suggestions.
B) Consultations organized by the Regional Ethical Review Boards
They are organized in each of the 13 main French regions, and coordinated by the National Consultative Ethics Committee. They usually consist of: – conferences/debates on one or two themes chosen by the Regional Ethical Review Boards, and are to include at least one lecture addressed to youth/students. The events will be covered by the local press. – Online questionnaires to be completed by any citizen so desiring.
C) Contributions from specialized organizations
– Ethical committees from the major research organizations (“CNRS: National Centre for Scientific Research, and “INSERM”: National Institute of Health and Medical Research] – Faculties and Academies (Sciences, Medicine…) and specialized scholarly groups, – National Health Conference (a think-tank on basic rights for users) and “CRSA”: Regional Conferences on Health and Autonomy, – Etc… Each ethical board or specialized organization will submit its results to the National Consultative Ethics Committee. There will also be one or more randomly selected citizen panel(s), although the organization and role of the panel has not yet been specified.

II – The phase for the national organizations’ reports: 2nd quarter of 2018

A) Specialized groups
Besides the scientific, ethical and public contributions, evaluation reports of the 2011 Bioethics law will be submitted, which have been elaborated by:
  • The Parliamentary Office for Scientific and Technological Choices (“OPESCT” (,
  • The Biomedicine Agency, (“ABM”)
  • The State Council (responsible for studying ethical and legal issues, as requested by the Government). They will also carry out various consultations.
In addition to these reports, elements will be submitted concerning international comparisons and reflections, carried out by European and international ethical groups, (Council of Europe, European Group on Ethics, etc…).
B) The National Consultative Ethics Committee
This Committee will also conduct auditions to gather opinions especially from concerned parties, scholarly groups and associations. They will then summarize all these contributions in a summary report, which will be sent to the Parliamentary Office for Scientific and Technological Choices, which includes members of the National Assembly and the Senate, presumably by the end of spring 2018. A national event is planned to finalize these National Bioethical Conferences on July 7, 2018, the 7th year anniversary date for the law passed in 2011.

III. The phase for drafting the law: 2nd semester of 2018 and 1st semester of 2019

A) The Government Bill
The bill to be drafted requires inter-ministerial coordination, and will begin in parallel with the National Bioethics Conferences. They will progressively take into account all the local and national contributions, in order to prepare the draft law in coordination with the National Consultations on Bioethics. The stated goal is to finalize the bill by summer 2018, for submission to Parliament in the fall (Source: Health Minister Circular, November 29, 2017).
B) Parliamentary Debate and Voting the Law
To prepare for the parliamentary proceedings, presumably after the bill is tabled, the Parliamentary Office for Scientific and Technological Choices, will evaluate the summary report by the National Consultative Ethics Committee “by highlighting the scientific elements essential to a good understanding of the issues at stake in the proposed reform” (Article L1412-1-1 of the Public Health Code, from the 2011 bioethics law). Parliamentary procedure generally requires several readings to be held in both assemblies. Thus, according to the government’s provisional calendar, the law is due to be adopted during the first half of 2019.]]>

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