Q.What are bio ethics? Why has its importance increased recently? Discuss one bio ethical issue of eminence in recent times.
Bioethics is a field of applied ethics which involves ethical issues related to living beings and concerns three broad areas namely medical ethics (health care, health science, and health policy), animal ethics, and environmental ethics. It involves not just doctors, but patients,scientists, activists and policy makers and public at large. The increase of the importance of bioethics can be attributed primarily to parallel and exponential increase of science and
technology that allows for interventions at biological levels that are at the same time highly ambitious and startling. Technologies like CRISPR which enable gene editing can give humans the power to optimize the genetic makeup of their progeny like editing an image on photoshop (in aesthetic detail). The skepticism and self-reflective pondering arising out of such power created the increased space for the discipline of bioethics. Another reason for the increase is the information revolution propelled by cybernetics that can spread awareness about things faster than ever before, it allows for organization of people across different communities and societies creating active organizations like PETA and International Bioethics Committee. Some of the protests that we often witness against the use of genetic
crops and the thriving of a niche market catering in ‘organic foods’ is a manifestation of such activity, though the demands made by such groups may sometimes be anti-scientific and irrational.
One bio ethical issue of eminence in recent times has been abortion in special circumstances when conditions of Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971 are not
allowing abortion. The matters have gone to court and the judgments have been widely reported in press. In one case, a 24-week pregnant woman facing danger to her life due to abnormality in fetus was granted permission to terminate her pregnancy. As per Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, a woman has right to terminate her pregnancy till 20 weeks if certified by doctor to do so in interest of mother / fetus. Beyond 20-week permission in this case was based on the doctor’s report which said that there was very little chance of survival of the fetus and the lady’s life would have engendered if it was not aborted. The court interpreted the same as right of the petitioner to preserve her life. Thus, courts have taken a different stance in case of abortion by minors on case to case basis. We also see that the topic of abortion occupies a lot of debate space in political communities in countries like USA and Ireland.