- Intro – define bioethics.
- Discuss the key issues of bioethics in India.
Ethical issues concerned with the biological aspects of life and how and when it starts is included in Bioethics.
Issues of bioethics in India:
- Euthanasia: In India, euthanasia/ “mercy –killing” of terminally ill patients has been a controversial bioethical issue. Proponents of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) feel that an individual’s right to autonomy entitles him to choose a painless death. The opponents feel that a physician’s role in the death of an individual violates the central tenet of the medical profession – A Life versus dignity. India allows Passive Euthanasia but we don’t allow Active Euthanasia.
- Stem cell research: The immense potential that has been shown by stem cells in treatment of “degenerative, incurable and irreversible” diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease has brought them into the spotlight. The debate around stem cells as therapy includes socio, political, cultural and ethical issues.
- Relaxed norms for clinical trials: Government had come up with stringent regulations regarding clinical trials in 2013. Since 2014, these regulations are being gradually relaxed. Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has decided to waive off Phase III clinical trials except where it is specifically necessary if the drug has been approved in US, Australia, Japan, Canada or Europe, because of the bio-ethical issues involved.
- Abortion: The social, cultural, religious, legal and political context of abortion is complex. This is complicated by advances in medical technology. A range of prenatal diagnostic technologies and the emergence of preconception and genetics-based technologies more recently have made it possible to know the status of the foetus in terms of sex or other ”abnormalities” This has encouraged women and their families to seek sex-selective abortions.
Each situation is quite unique and complex, and we have to negotiate with many factors before a final solution can be arrived at. The Bioethicist in the modern age should be sensitive to all these factors that play important roles in shaping Ethical values and principles in modern societies.