The Social Democrats (SPD) in the German parliament have decided to oppose an all-parliamentary commission of inquiry on human rights and bioethics. They argue that such a lengthy debate on already agreed first principles could delay the introduction of legislation for specific biomedical issues. This position is supported by the Christian Democrats but the Green party, the SPD's coalition partner, opposed the decision. 'Advances in pre-implantation diagnosis and reproductive medicine are likely to shatter our traditional ideas of human nature', said Monika Knoche, the Green party's expert on medical ethics. But the difficulty in achieving a consensus or compromise in such commissions of inquiry, means they can be used to postpone political action. The SPD members argue that they are refusing to set up a bioethics commission in order to allow legislation on specific areas such as germ-line genetic therapy, genetic testing, cloning, and reproductive medicine.
Germany is still hesitating over whether to sign and ratify the Council of Europe's Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, fearing that its own legislation - although not directly in conflict with the convention - could be watered down by less restrictive provisions.