What is Bioethics?
Bioethics is a complicated subject. This article explains in simple terms for a high school student to understand its foundational concept.
Bioethics: What is it?
Bioethics is a special branch of ethic that arises from modern biotechnology. Biotechnology is any technology that is using any microorganism or biological material for technological purposes. This would include things like brewing. However, bioethics deals especially with gene-technology that aims at altering the genes or draws on a certain amount of knowledge from modern genetics. It is then has to do with the gene power or power that raises question over life and death. Bioethics simply could mean decisions of moral or what is right or wrong made over life using biotechnology.
The Three Phases of Human Life Bioethics Deals With
article treats three important phase of human life. They are: beginning of life (prenatal medicine), in the midst of life (testing and screening), and the end of life (euthanasia).
Biotechnology now enables human to interfere with the beginning in two possible ways: Reproductive technology and Parental Diagnosis. In the former, the new technology now makes it possible to monitor, interfere with and to a certain degree even direct or control the reproductive process from the moment of fertilization. The in vitro fertilization (IVF) is used to help couples for whom it is difficult to have children through the normal way of sexual intercourse. It is a process where human egg cell from the woman is taken out and fertilized with the sperm cell from the man (not necessarily the husband) that are taken out of him and later put back into the woman (not necessarily the same woman). This will make the child having three mothers: the ‘genetic mother’ (the one who provides the egg cells), the ‘surrogate mother’ or the ‘brooding mother’ (the one who bears the baby in her body) and the ‘social mother’ (the one who takes care of the baby). In this process the embryo can stay outside of the human body for two weeks and can be used for research. Two ethical questions arise. Is it proper for the biotechnologists to use human beings for research like any other objects? What would be the psychological effects of the children born from this process?
Modern medicine also develops ways of testing healthy people for probability of becoming ill. Some diseases are determined by inheritance and are difficult or impossible to avoid. Other illness can result from the interplay between a person’s gene-disposition and his or her environment or life style influences. The results of these tests can affect many people. While tests can help to detect future sickness, it creates anxiety (false and unnecessarily), endanger their security in work, insurance policies, etc. Many healthy people think about themselves as patients. These effects can be seen as abuse of genetic information.
Euthanasia is not a consequence of biotechnological development, but is a mercy killing and has been discussed for many years. Two things surfaced in this biotechnology. Technology can prolong terminally ill people unnecessarily delaying death of a person. It is a question of cost and the right of a person to die naturally. On the other hand, biotechnology can also be used to prematurely terminate a life of a terminally ill person than let a natural process to take its cause. In euthanasia, biotechnology helps a person to die, thus raises a question of the right to take away the life of another person. Many people claim that euthanasia comes about as new attitudes of life are adopted in the modern world. People are more individualistic and a more meaningful and dignified life is a life when one conduct his or her life and not dependent on another person.
These questions of biotechnology affect people, especially the Christians. Pregnant women, who are tested and found to have carrying babies with some diseases, are confronted with a problem with many question of life to answer. The consequences of having a baby with this or that diseases are enormous that parents are petrified to have the baby born with the disease. Others will be forced to make decision they will find it hard to make. People as corporate citizens have to make decisions when electing possible leader who will make policies that might not be right with their conscience. They choose people who will also be under influences of many multinational biotechnological companies who might use the gene age as viable economic gain.
In a modern society, Christian community faces these questions whether at political or personal level, people must be aware and educated to take a common and reasonable path to help bigger community than at personal or individual level.