Bioethics encompasses every ethical question relating and pertaining to medicine and the health of living things. Everything from pediatrics to nursing, from euthanasia to birth-pain killer, from the debate of abortion to the law of malpractice is covered by the term bioethics. Bioethics is a very broad, very extensive category of ethics.
The concept of a separate set of ideas called bioethics first began in 1846. While it stayed very small, it did experience a resurgence after World War Two. This resurgence was mostly due to the vast array of war crimes committed by the Nazi?s with such tortures as human testing and mass murders. In the 1960?s, the United States had to give death a legal definition. Because of new life support technologies such as heart-lung machines and the lack of dialysis machines, people could now be kept alive artificially. If people weren?t keeping their selves alive, were they really alive at all?
Whenever a new medicine or technology is developed for use in the health care community, bioethical questions are raised and answers are demanded and debated, and hopefully answered eventually. In past months, there has been much heated debate over many issues that bioethics encompass.
The use of reproductive enhancing fertility drugs (viagra and hMG?s (human menopausal gonadotropins)) has recently been all over newspapers and television due the sudden outbreak of multiple births and cures for impotence. This new advancement in medicine has led to the questioning of the ethical issues surrounding such technologies. Some religions do not allow for such drugs to be used, and some do not believe that it is ?God?s will? to have children unless the person is naturally fertile. Many environmentalists see these new drugs as the end of humankind because of the damage that overpopulation will cause. The debate over fertility drugs is almost as heated as the discussion over abortion.
Contraceptive devices have always been a source of disagreement for people since many hundreds of years ago. Up until the 1800?s, abortion was a common practice. In the late 1800?s abortion was criminalized until 1973, when the historic Rowe versus Wade case made abortion legal practice again. The use of such drugs as the French-developed RU-486, has been questioned by our own country?s Food and Drug Administration. Abortion is seen as killing to some, and saving to others. The taking of life before it is given will continue to raise ethical questions despite the legality of the practice.
In the coming decades, we will face bioethical questions regarding cloning of humans, selective DNA, alternative medicines, drug legalization and many other issues that we cannot yet foresee. Bioethics is the base of which laws will be made and decided upon. The future can be a scary place, but thanks to the wonders of bioethics and human decency, we can make it a wonderful place.