BioethicsProgress in the pharmacological, medical and biological sciencesinvolves experimentation on all living species, including animals and humans.
The effectiveness of medications investigative procedures and treatments must atsome point be tested on animals and human beings. Although tests are conductedmuch more frequently on lab animals, especially those most related to humans,they do not provide sufficient information.
The history of medicine shows that there has always been a need forexperimentation on human beings. Examples of these consist of the inoculationof Newgate prisoners in 1721, who had been condemned to death with Smallpox. In1796, Edward Jenner, also studying Smallpox, inoculated an eight year old boywith pus from a diseased cow. The list goes on, and such experiments continueeven until today.
Nowadays these experiments would be ethically and legally unacceptable.
Nevertheless, there have been clear documented cases of abuse in recent times.
An example of this is the experiments conducted by Nazi doctors on prisoners inthe concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Does this mean that since there is potential for abuse, allexperimentation should be banned? This would mean that society would becondemned to remain at the same level of knowledge (status quo)?Bioethically speaking, how far can we go in the study of the humanwithout crossing the line? The fundamental question is, since we are the onesdrawing the line, where do we draw it?The purpose of this essay is to provide a clear sense of the present lawon this issue. Second, to review the problems raised by experimentation onanimals. To show some different examples of bioethics. Third, to show thebiblical view of the matter. Finally, to bring the reader to his or her ownclear conclusion, without a bias opinion on the matter.
THE CURRENT STATE OF THE LAWBiomedical experimentation on human subjects raises many complex legalproblems that the law must deal with accordingly. For example, infringement onthe rules subjects the researcher not only to criminal sanctions, but also civilsanctions (damages for harm caused), administrative sanctions (withdrawal offunds), or disciplinary sanctions (suspension from the researchers’ professionalassociation).
Since we are in Canada, there are two categories of law dealing withregulating experimentation. The first is Federal and Provincial Legislation.
The second consists of documents, codes of ethics and reports, which while notnecessarily enforceable, strongly urge researchers experiments on human subjectsto observe certain standards of conduct.
A.FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL LEGISLATIONThe Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms governs here. Some of itsprovisions in effect make certain kinds of experiments illegal. “Anyexperimental activity which endangers the protected values is thereof illegal.”Another is according to current case law, “treatment” may be broadly construedrather than being limited to therapy.
Criminal sanctions dealing with offences against the person make itpossible to penalize those causing harm to a subject who has not given validconsent to an experiment. Explaining this, many experiments on humans are legaland performed everyday. No experiment is performed without a purpose. The mostcommon is during surgery, the patients give valid consent to have experimentsconducted on them during the operation.
With respect to medications, citizens of Canada are given protection bythe Food and Drug Act. These laws control new medications into the market.
Although this seems as though it contains no ethical procedures it touches uponthe experimentation prior to the release of the medication. Many animals havebeen used in order to bring these medications to the market. Furthermore,humans must have been used during experimentation. According to the Law, anyexperiment performed on a person to bring out any new medication may result incriminal sanction (homicide, damages for harm, suspension).
Here are a few examples given by the Charter of the Rights and Freedoms.
The experiment should be so designed and based on the results of animalexperimentation and a knowledge of the natural history of the diseased of otherproblem under study that the anticipated results will justify the performance ofthe experiment.
The degree of risk to be taken should never exceed that determined bythe humanitarian importance of the problem to be solved by the experiment.
*The voluntary consent of the human is absolutely essential.
B.ETHICAL DOCUMENTSIn 1977, a report of the Canada Council was prepared on ethics. It wasresponsible for construing ethical guidelines for the people to abide by.
Although the report deals with ethics in the bio-medical studies, it emphasizesmore on other issues.
ANIMAL RIGHTSEXPERIMENTATION ON FETUSESeuthanasia, abortion, genetic engineeringSince the law states that most experimentation performed on animals andhumans is unethical yet provides fruitful results, it should be left to thepeople to make the decision whether or not experimentation should continue andto what extent.
If we are considered to be a moral race, then should we be allowed tomake the choice for anyone who cannot make the choice for them?, just like amother for her own child? One who agrees with this statement, most likelyagrees that we should decide whether or not any experimentation on a creaturethat has no developed morals or rights can be performed. One who disagrees withthe aforementioned statement has no question in his or her mind that, noexperimentation should be performed if it results in the harm of the subject, beit a rat or a human.
The essence of this is based on human moral. Since we cannotcommunicate with the specimens other than humans (fetuses, animals, mentallydisabled) we do not know of what moral standing these specimens should begranted, so we give them none. Is this fair. We limit ourselves to a certainamount of knowledge if certain experiments that are considered to be immoral areperformed. The real question is again, where do we draw the line? Sinceanimals are not themselves direst objects of moral concern, there arenonetheless certain things that are not morally justifiable when done toanimals.On this view, unnecessary cruelty towards animals is forbiddenbecause of the psychological fact that people who brutalize animals will or maytend to behave cruelly towards other people.
Again, there are two views that can be taken from this point. One isthat, no experiment that one wouldn’t perform on his fellow man, should not beperformed on any animal. The other view is, if the experiment provides positiveresults, and is not cruel to the subject, then it should be allowed to beperformed.
Although much abuse and infringement on animals rights has occurred overthe past century in the field of study, that shouldn’t stop us now fromcontinued learning.
Here are some examples of abuse on animals and some issues involvingbioethics. At the Department of Psychology at MIT, hamsters were blinded in astudy showing that “blinding increases territorial aggression in male Syriangolden hamsters.”At UCLA, monkeys were also blinded to study the effects ofhallucinogens on them. Another example, lab rabbits were tested to see how theyreact to a companions death. These examples are true and show how far somepeople would let their curiosities take them. They are not necessary and suchresearcher should be suspended.
More examples of bioethics are such things like abortion and euthanasia.
Genetic engineering, organ transplants, prostheses and artificial inseminationare just a few examples that are considered to be unethical by some and ethicalfor others. Even such things as surrogate motherhood are considered unethical.
To give you a better taste of what opposing arguments on a certain bioethicaltopic is, the artificial heart will be used as an example. The artificial heartshould be used, even though it does not promise the subject an easy life, itdoes promise them life and that is all the patients want to hear, that they aregoing to live even just a year, month or week. The other side of the mattersays that the artificial heart in not only unethical, it is too expensive. Theybelieve that what G-D giveth, G-D can taketh awayeth. This brings us to theBiblical view on the matter.
BIBLICAL VIEWOften in theses days it is said that the primary question is just thatof human survival. Many say that we live on borrowed, and probably brief time.
An “apocalyptic vision of a barren, radioactive, peopleless planet haunts theminds of young people……victims of instants cremation or inexorable, agonizeddeath!”This statement is talking about society’s technological advancementsthat are able to leave the world desolate and barren from people, plants and allliving creatures.
What does this have to do with the study of Bioethics.? First, let’sshow how this relates to biblical text. Study of man has brought us to thepossibility of complete desolation on an entire planet. Biblically, man shouldnot interfere with what he has not produced or belonging to him. Even life doesnot belong to man himself, the choice cannot be made by him to take the lives ofothers. This is where the study of bioethics comes in. Even if the results ofany experiments provide fruitful results, they cannot be performed if theyinvolve interfering with what is not rightfully their own. This is like takingsomeone’s life into your own hands, “playing god” as many say is a sin.
Especially abortion, euthanasia, any birth control etc. This leaves societywith no room for advancement, yet being a believer in G-D, the points soundvalid ethically, yet more religiously. Many people of today’s society feel thatsuch a view will or may keep society from helping themselves provide betterlives for themselves. The Biblical believers say contradict this with a verystrong belief in G-D.
Finally, the time has come to make a valid conclusion. The decision isup to you to decide. The purpose of this essay was not to make the decision foryou, it was to show both sides of the argument clearly without a bias opinion,and to let you the reader decide. Ladies and Gentlemen the choice is nowyours…