Consolidating the ‘ethics industry’

A national ethics committee and bioethics during the 1990s

in The making of British bioethics

During the 1980s, many of the individuals who were pivotal to the making of British bioethics sought to establish what the British Medical Journal identified as a 'national bioethics committee'. Ian Kennedy was the strongest advocate of bioethics in Britain during the late 1970s and early 1980s, so it is no surprise to find that he was also the first individual to endorse a national bioethics committee. Sir David Weatherhall's lobbying led members of the Nuffield Foundation to undertake informal soundings on the need for a national bioethics committee. After Foundation trustees approved the steering group's terms of reference, the Nuffield Council on Bioethics was officially established in May 1991. The Nuffield Council's limited impact on policymaking ensured that bioethicists continued to have greater authority as members of ad hoc public inquiries.

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