Download PDF Life, Love and Children: A Practical Introduction to Bioscience Ethics and Bioethics

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At last, the discussion is directed to special issues facing nurses, teachers, and ethics consultants, providing a critical review of how ethics committees work and how bioethics is being taught. Together with an useful index and directory, and its accompanying volume of classical texts Bioethics: An Anthology , also published by Blackwell in , this book provides an ideal basis for course and committee use in this field, and will be of interest to doctors, therapists, lawyers, journalists, and philosophers alike. Not to forget, of course, patients -- a group we all are likely to join at one time or another.

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Electronic Books: Bioethics (Cushing / Whitney Medical Library, Yale University)

It is hoped that in time, bioscience ethics will achieve meaningful discourse, be helpful in contemporary ethics and be derived directly from scientific, social and environmental perspectives. New priorities may develop because bioscience ethics, by concentrating on long-term social goals, made possible by good biological understanding, will reduce urgent, short-term crises, especially in the areas where scientific technology has irreversibly changed our relationship with the natural world, and has rendered many old belief systems inappropriate.

An understanding of biological principles can serve as a sound basis for the development of a bioethical system that is appropriate for the maintenance of a healthy human society in harmony with the environment. For example, juxtaposing my specialist understanding of reproductive mechanisms on the four bioethical principles of autonomy, nonmaleficence or causing no harm , beneficence or doing good and justice, I find myself in bioscience ethic's territory. Let's discuss a specific example: that of preventable drug-induced disability in children.

Epidemiological that is, human based studies have repeatedly demonstrated that drug abuse during the preconceptual period leading up to fertilisation, and during pregnancy, is a universal social problem with countless potentially healthy children being needlessly handicapped. That most parents love their babies is irrelevant, the fact of the matter is that some of them will inadvertently cause their children grave irreversible harm.


Common preventable drug-induced adverse outcomes of reproductive function include greater infertility, increased birth defects in the newborn baby, low infant birth weight due to inadequate foetal growth, and increased risk of neonatal intensive care intervention. Long-term effects include defective growth, compromised mental and behavioural development and low resistance to some illnesses such as cancer and depression. A relationship between drug-induced low infant birth weight and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has also been documented, with the risk related to the extent of parental drug consumption.

The most widespread damage caused by parents is through the most frequently used drugs which are nicotine and alcohol.

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It is no exaggeration to state that millions of kids worldwide suffer from debilitating lifetime alcohol-related defects. For example, alcohol-induced brain damage is now the leading cause of intellectual disability in the western world. And this is despite the fact that the detrimental consequences of alcohol abuse during pregnancy, have been known since antiquity. Preventable congenital disorders also emphasise that parents have, since the earliest times, genetically engineered their own kids.

In this light, Dolly the sheep, cloned from an udder cell from its donor mother, is just a passing phenomenon. Many people would agree that reproduction is a privilege, not a right, yet at the same time, genuinely respect the concept that all of us also have the basic human right for unrestrained reproduction.

Bioscience ethics proposes that all rights are accompanied by obligations. Parents who freely choose to have a child, in so choosing are deemed to have assumed ethical responsibility for the future person to be free from preventible harm. Bioscience ethics also proposes that society has responsibilities to the individual helping them fulfil their parental obligations. Exceptionally high reproductive dysfunction is associated with poor living conditions, especially amongst indigenous peoples. This is understandable because of Australia's colonial legacy and existing socio-economic problems.

Presently the Australian indigenous community, relative to the rest of us, lives on a lower average family income, has a lower education level, suffers a greater percentage unemployment and is often relegated to unacceptably overcrowded housing with poor sanitation. The systematic destruction of 40, years of adaptive evolution has started a health crisis that will take much more than goodwill to resolve. The view that it is offensive to the individual society to bring a child into existence without fair prospects needs to be widely publicised.

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