The Swiss Constitution was amended by referendum in 1992 to include two unique provisions: Article 119, which imposes strict limits on genetic and reproductive technologies in humans in order to protect ‘human dignity’, and Article 120, which commits the Swiss federal government to limiting genetic technologies in non-human species on the basis of the ‘dignity of the creature’. This article analyzes the role of ‘dignity’ as a limit on biotechnologies in the Swiss constitutional order. It concludes that the understanding of dignity the constitution embraces codifies a contestable metaphysical theory of value at the constitutional level. Specifically, the Swiss constitutional concept of dignity embraces the normative theory that the natural order is a source of moral value. Because this theory speaks directly to contested questions of the good life, Switzerland’s adoption of it as a constitutional principle is analogous to the adoption of a religious theory in a constitution. The concept of dignity as understood in the Swiss constitutional order is contrary to the commitment to epistemic humility characteristic of liberal constitutions.
James Toomey, Constitutionalizing Nature's Law: Dignity and the Regulation of Biotechnology in Switzerland, 7 J. L. & Biosciences Jan-June 2020, at 1, https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/1237/
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