Issues such as: What to do with “unused” embryos created in fertility labs, cloning, the use of placebos, in vitro fertilisation and reproductive technologies, Stem cell research, abortion, euthanasia, the legalisation of Marijuana, all fall within the ambit of Bio-Ethics.

Ethics is a philosophical concept pertaining to notions of good and bad, right and wrong—our moral life in community. Bio-ethics is the application of ethics to the field of medicine and healthcare.

Bio-ethics is multidisciplinary. It blends philosophy, theology, history, and law with medicine, nursing, health policy, and the medical humanities. Although the issues are as old as humankind, the origins of bio-ethics as a field is more recent.

As science develops, and human beings expand and reproduce, bio-ethics will be constantly changing with an insatiable need to adapt to ever changing demands.

Our courts have had to debate concepts of bio-ethics when considering such ethical issues such as wrongful life, wrongful birth and wrongful pregnancy.

Claims for wrongful life are brought by disabled children against medical practitioners who negligently fail to determine a defect causing disability before birth, thereby depriving the parents of the opportunity to prevent such a birth.

Wrongful birth are brought about by parents against medical practitioners for negligently not detecting disability in the fetus during the pregnancy. The claim by the parents is that had they been adequately informed of the defect, they would have prevented the pregnancy.

‘Wrongful pregnancy’ actions are instituted by parents of normal children against practitioners, pharmacists and manufacturers of contraception following the birth of a child as a result of failed contraception (which includes sterilisation).

The above examples illustrate the intricate considerations in bio-ethics and its interaction with the law as well as medicine. This illusive concept of bio-ethics will always be difficult to determine due to its ever changing nature. As long as technology and medicine evolve and as long as the human race expands, the concept of bio-ethics will constantly need to change and adapt.

#hcsmSA #hcsm #Bioethics #eHealth #HIMSS17