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What does Brexit mean for bioethics? It is tempting to provide an alarmist answer to this question. Yet it is wise to avoid the apocalyptic tone of recent media coverage and first to flag what is not going to change in UK biomedical ethics policy.
First and foremost, the UK will not (or, at least, not yet) be leaving the Council of Europe (CoE) – this entity does not fall under the auspices of the EU. That the UK will remain in the CoE is significant, as this is the umbrella organisation for what is known as the Committee on Bioethics, an influential policy body that seeks to apply principles outlined in the Convention on Human Rights and Medicine to new issues in medical technology and research.
The European Court on Human Rights also falls within the purview of the CoE. Importantly, The ECHR has handed down significant decisions within the area of conscientious objection in healthcare. However, fears remain regarding the effects of Brexit on UK public health policies.
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