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Assisted Reproduction in the Nordic Countries

A comparative study of policies and regulation

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After five decades of intermittent attempts, the Nordic countries still have very different policies in the field of assisted reproduction. In the absence of a comprehensive policy design Finland has, by default, the most permissive regimen of ART practices in the Nordic region. Compared to the other Nordic countries, Norway has the strictest ART regulation in place. The ART policy design in Iceland and Denmark places those two countries in the intermediate category. While the policy design in the other Nordic countries has remained relatively constant, Sweden has through several re-designs moved from a rather restrictive policy design to a permissive one. What is the nature of these differences and how did they come about? This report examines the appropriation of assisted reproductive technologies in the Nordic countries at the level of policy-making. It traces the policy designing process in each country from governmental committees or working parties to parliamentary proceedings. It describes formative events and debates. In the end, the report identifies some of the factors that account for the divergence of ART policies among the Nordic countries. There are no simple explanations for the divergence in ART policies across the Nordic countries. By examining the policy design processes, this study has been able to identify a number of factors that have impacted the ART policy content in each Nordic country and thus underlie the diversity of policy designs. These factors have to do with the timing of decision-making, actor beliefs, the arena of policy-making, and a variety of issues connected to the broader context.

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