How identical would cloned children be? An understanding essential to the ethical debate.
The ban on human cloning in many countries worldwide is founded on an assumption that cloned children will be identical to each other and to their nuclear donor. This paper explores the scientific basis for this assumption, considering both the principles and practice of cloning in animals and comparing genetic and epigenetic variation in potential human clones with that in monozygotic twins. (+info)
In defence of medical ethics.
A number of recent publications by the philosopher David Seedhouse are discussed. Although medicine is an eminently ethical enterprise, the technical and ethical aspects of health care practices can be distinguished, therefore justifying the existence of medical ethics and its teaching as a specific part of every medical curriculum. The goal of teaching medical ethics is to make health care practitioners aware of the essential ethical aspects of their work. Furthermore, the contention that rational bioethics is a fruitless enterprise because it analyses non-rational social events seems neither theoretically tenable nor to be borne out by actual practice. Medical ethics in particular and bioethics in general, constitute a field of expertise that must make itself understandable and convincing to relevant audiences in health care. (+info)
Bioethics regulations in Turkey.
Although modern technical and scientific developments in medicine are followed closely in Turkey, it cannot be claimed that the same is true in the field of bioethics. Yet, more and more attention is now being paid to bioethics and ethics training in health sciences. In addition, there are also legal regulations in bioethics, some of which are not so new. The objective of these regulations is to provide technical and administrative control. Ethical concerns are rather few. What attracts our attention most in these regulations is the presence of the idea of "consent". (+info)
Some ethical issues at the population level raised by 'soft' eugenics, euphenics, and isogenics.
It is argued that at the population level there are three central genetic developments raising ethical issues. The first is the emergence of 'soft' eugenics, due primarily to the increasing ability to detect carriers of genetic diseases, to monitor their pregnancies, and to provide the option to abort a fetus predisposed to major genetic disease. The second development is the recognition of the extent to which many serious diseases of adult life are due to a disturbance of ancient genetic homeostatic mechanisms due to changing life style, raising the question of whether a society that increasingly pays the medical bills should attempt to impose healthier standards of living on its members. Such an attempt at 'euphenics' may be thought of as the antithesis to eugenics. The third development relates to recognition of the need to regulate the size of the earth's population to numbers that can be indefinitely sustained; this regulation in a fashion (isogenic) that will preserve existing genetic diversity. (+info)
Ethnicity, bioethics, and prenatal diagnosis: the amniocentesis decisions of Mexican-origin women and their partners.
Bioethical standards and counseling techniques that regulate prenatal diagnosis in the United States were developed at a time when the principal constituency for fetal testing was a self-selected group of White, well-informed, middle-class women. The routine use of alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) testing, which has become widespread since the mid-1980s, introduced new constituencies to prenatal diagnosis. These new constituencies include ethnic minority women, who, with the exception of women from certain Asian groups, refuse amniocentesis at significantly higher rates than others. This study examines the considerations taken into account by a group of Mexican-origin women who had screened positive for AFP and were deciding whether to undergo amniocentesis. We reviewed 379 charts and interviewed 147 women and 120 partners to test a number of factors that might explain why some women accept amniocentesis and some refuse. A woman's attitudes toward doctors, medicine, and prenatal care and her assessment of the risk and uncertainty associated with the procedure were found to be most significant. Case summaries demonstrate the indeterminacy of the decision-making process. We concluded that established bioethical principles and counseling techniques need to be more sensitive to the way ethnic minority clients make their amniocentesis choices. (+info)
Talking about cases in bioethics: the effect of an intensive course on health care professionals.
Educational efforts in bioethics are prevalent, but little is known about their efficacy. Although previous work indicates that courses in bioethics have a demonstrable effect on medical students, it has not examined their effect on health care professionals. In this report, we describe a study designed to investigate the effect of bioethics education on health care professionals. At the Intensive Bioethics Course, a six-day course held annually at Georgetown University, we administered a questionnaire requiring open-ended responses to vignettes both before and after the course. Following the course, respondents defended their responses more carefully and articulated their thoughts more clearly. In addition, after the course respondents seemed to have a more subtle understanding of the relevant issues in the cases and applied theory to these cases more frequently. These findings help to formulate an understanding of the effect of bioethics education on health care professionals. (+info)
Ongoing research on mammalian cloning and embryo stem cell technologies: bioethics of their potential medical applications.
Reproduction by cloning has been achieved by transfer into enucleated oocytes of nuclei from embryonic cells and more recently from cells of adult animals. The efficiency at which embryos produced by such nuclear transfers will develop into healthy newborns is very low but has succeeded in producing some cloned bovines, ovines and mice. Since the first report of sheep cloning from an adult cell in 1997, the potential applications of reproductive cloning in human medicine have been envisaged amidst a flurry of moral debates. Although the technology is still far from being ready for any human use, it has been condemned up front. It has also led to irrational fantasies and fears, based mainly on the misconception that genetic identity means identical twin personalities. Scientific research is ongoing to refine the cloning technology for applications in the production of genetically homogeneous farm animals with useful nutritional or therapeutic genetic traits. A new area of research is non-reproductive therapeutic cloning for the purpose of producing autologous embryonic cells and tissues for transplantation. (+info)
Progress and potential for gene-based medicines.
During the past decade researchers have explored the potential of gene-based medicines to extend current treatments employing chemical entities and proteins. However, progress has been slower than was originally predicted due to our limited knowledge of the genetic components of major diseases, the complexity of developing active biological agents as therapies, and the stringent and time-consuming tests necessary to ensure safety prior to introduction of these novel modalities in the clinic. In spite of the present technology challenges and clinical setbacks in gene therapy it is anticipated that gene-based medicines will find their niche in disease prevention and management strategies in the coming decade, extending the repertoire of medicines available to satisfy key unmet medical needs. Additionally, progress in xenotransplantation research is creating the opportunity to use gene-modified porcine organs for human transplantation. This innovative approach aims to address the current insufficiency of human donor organs for clinical transplantation. (+info)