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Bioethics. Bethune Cookman University Ethics Prof. Rodriguez. Challenges of Bioethics. A new area of scientific exploration Offers great potential Offers great challenges

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Bethune Cookman University


Prof. Rodriguez

challenges of bioethics
Challenges of Bioethics
  • A new area of scientific exploration
  • Offers great potential
  • Offers great challenges
  • Men ought not learn to play God before they learn to be men, and after they have learned to be men they will not play God. [emphasis mine]

(Paul Ramsey)

  • Johan Gregor Mendel (1822-1884)
  • Father of Genetics
  • James Watson & Francis Crick
  • Discovery of Double Helix (DNA) 1953
  • Human Genome Project (1990-2003)
  • Identified 20-25,000 genes in human DNA
example 1 potential challenge reproductive technologies
Example 1: Potential & Challenge:Reproductive Technologies
  • Potential:
  • Assist infertile couples in having children
  • Address causes of infertility
  • Challenges:
  • Commodification of life
  • Legal issues/problems
  • Racism
  • Economic inequality
  • Abuse
  • Confusion family roles (traditional family)
  • Ethical concerns: scarce med. resources, selfish motives, eugenics
example 2 potential challenge face transplants
Example 2: Potential & Challenge:Face transplants
  • Potential:
  • Assisting severely injured persons
  • Addressing psychological concerns
  • Giving people a chance at a normal life
  • Challenges:
  • Donor concerns
  • Family concerns
  • Legal concerns
  • “Yuck” factor
example 3 potential challenge stem cell research
Example 3: Potential & Challenge:Stem Cell Research
  • Importance:
  • ‘Blank cells’ (unspecialized)
  • Capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods of time (proliferation and renewal)
  • Have the potential to give rise to specialized cell types (differentiation)
stem cell research1
Stem Cell Research
  • Ethical Debate:

Normal Sexual Reproduction:

stem cell research3
Stem Cell Research
  • Two important cells:
  • Pluripotent cells- cells from which any body organ can develop
  • Multipotent cells- cells from which limited or specific types of organs can develop
stem cell research5
Stem Cell Research

Ethical Debate:

  • Destruction of human embryos
  • Creation of chimeras (animals with human cells and organs
  • Destruction of frozen embryos not being used
para human chimera artists conception patricia piccinini http www patriciapiccinini net
Para-Human Chimera: Artists Conception (Patricia Piccinini)
stem cell research6
Stem Cell Research
  • Ethical Guidelines:
  • Do not let chimeraic animals mate (could lead to conceiving a human being)
  • Do not allow human stem cells to become a part of animal’s brain or injected into other primates
  • Embryos should not be allowed to develop more than 14 days
example 4 potential challenge human cloning
Example 4: Potential & Challenge:Human Cloning

Two types of cloning:

  • A) Therapeutic: Cloning for medical purposes. Cloning tissues. Allowed and legal in U.S.
  • B) Reproductive: Cloning to create a duplicate human being. Condemned and illegal in the U.S.
human cloning
Human Cloning
  • Moral dilemma:
  • Cloning is asexual reproduction
human cloning1
Human Cloning
  • Dolly the sheep (1997-2003)
human cloning3
Human Cloning

Ethical Issues:

  • Cloning human beings
  • Playing God
  • Moral and legal status of clones
  • Abnormalities in perfecting the procedure
  • Aesthetic concerns (moral revulsion, abomination, “yuck factor”)
example 5 potential challenge genetic engineering
Example 5: Potential & Challenge:Genetic Engineering


  • Address genetic abnormalities
  • Cure diseases
  • Tailor medicine and diet to specific individual needs
  • Locate genes that cause various diseases, conditions and traits
genetic engineering
Genetic Engineering

Ethical Concerns:

  • Designer babies and Eugenics
  • Gene Therapy may undermine free will and autonomy (turning off certain genes that determine behavior; “religious gene” or “gay gene”)
  • Experimentation: (1) Are desperate individuals giving their true consent? (2) Abuse
  • Upsetting the balance in nature
genetic modification of food
Genetic Modification of Food
  • Genetic modification of plants and vegetables:
genetic modification of food1
Genetic Modification of Food
  • Genetic manipulation of animals
genetic manipulation of food
Genetic Manipulation of Food

Ethical Concerns:

  • Weighing benefits & risks:
    • Benefits: Longer healthier lives
    • Risks: Unknown risks
  • Interfering with nature
  • Animals can be modified to include pharmaceuticals in their milk
  • Genetic manipulation in order to harvest organs (pigs and heart valves)
  • Cloned animals in food supply
example 6 potential challenge xenotransplantation
Example 6: Potential & Challenge:Xenotransplantation
  • Pros:
  • Ameliorates organ shortage
  • Replacement of the heart, lungs, liver, & kidneys
  • Biochemical profile of pigs & human are similar
  • Genetic similarities with primates
  • Cons:
  • Animals are GE
  • Animals destroyed for harvesting
  • Rejection of organs by human immune system as foreign
  • Retro viruses
  • Viral infections
  • Human must refrain from procreating
genetic screening
Genetic Screening

Ethical Concerns:

  • Privacy
    • People have a right to privacy
  • Public access to records
    • Who should have access to your personal medical records?
    • Data Banks
  • Conflicts of Interest (Employment, Insurance)
  • Genetic Discrimination
    • Discriminating people based on condition and predisposition
    • Genetic Profiling