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Mains Practice Questions

  • Q. What do you understand by bioethics? Discuss issues related to bioethics in India. (250 words)

    14 Mar, 2019 GS Paper 4 Theoretical Questions

    Answer :

    Approach

    • Write about what you understand by bioethics.
    • Discuss the issues related to bioethics in India

    Introduction

    Bioethics

    • Ethical issues concerned with the biological aspects of life and how and when it starts is included in Bioethics.
    • It is the branch of the ethics which consists of the analysis of specific, controversial moral issues such as abortion, animal rights, or euthanasia. It helps to use knowledge of moral principles to present dilemmas.
    • The Bioethics has many roles to play among which three important missions are:
    • to raise the questions about unethical practices among healthcare institutions
    • to compete with the new bioethical problems arising due to implementation of new and upcoming biotechnologies
    • to challenge the public health issues and the deliverance of health care facilities among economically underdeveloped parts of the world.

    Body

    Issues related to 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 automatically 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. We allow 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. The concerns related to designer babies has raised serious bio-ethical issues.
    • There was public outcry over delivery of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine administered to girls in Andhra Pradesh by an international foundation. The tribal department of the state had come out with an order that girls’ parents need not be contacted for consent and that principals of the tribal schools may provide consent. It is not ethical to administer vaccine to minor girls without their parents informed consent.
    • 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 selective abortions including sex-based ones also.

    Conclusion

    • Each situation is quite unique and complex. And, we have to negotiate with many factors. Before we really come with a final solution. There are Scientific, Technological, Economic, Political, Social, Religious, Cultural factors.
    • 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.

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