The term bioethics results from the combination of two disciplines: biology and ethics. As is well known, the first is focused on the study of life and the second on an area of philosophy concerned with the good, with human values and the formalization of moral norms related to our actions.
Bioethics addresses a general question that can be expressed by a series of directed questions: are all possibilities of medicine acceptable from an ethical point of view?; should scientific experimentation on human life be subject to some kind of moral and legal limitation ?; do animals have rights?; is it legitimate for a government to impose sterilization campaigns on the population to control population growth?
These types of questions have a common denominator: they all need a philosophical reflection based on ethical principles.
The historical origin of bioethics
After World War II the atrocities committed by the Nazis in the field of human experimentation became known. In order to investigate the reactions of the human body, the Nazis used Jewish prisoners as guinea pigs in all kinds of research with a scientific justification, for example, in amputations to transplant limbs, in studies on the human organism’s reaction to toxic products, among others.
When world public opinion began to know about these episodes, the need arose to establish a new discipline that would address the issue of ethical principles that should guide biological research in any of its areas.
The issue of genetic manipulation
Knowledge about the human genome offers great therapeutic possibilities, since many diseases of genetic origin can be cured today. However, genetics can also be used for purposes that are questionable from an ethical point of view. In this sense, in recent years, they started to debate about gene doping and the cloning of human beings.
Bioethics and Law
From the point of view of law, it is necessary to promote a reflection on issues related to the dignity of human life, euthanasia, animal rights and protection of the environment .
It should be noted that in all these themes it is already possible to intervene scientifically, consequently, the legislation of the countries must establish legal limits so that there is no abuse or behavior contrary to universal ethical values.