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Problems of Bioethics


Lukas Ohly

This book criticizes the suggestive implication of newer bioethics that we need a new ethical paradigm in order to handle with the innovations of medicine and biotechnology. It holds that these innovations have a suggestive character at all which is not relevant however in order to justify a paradigm shift in ethics. Especially the suggestions of reproduction, genetics, mercy killing and neuroscience reveal a misunderstanding about ethics. Moreover they show inevitably theological implications they actually like to avoid especially in secular ethics.


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2 The moral state of the embryo


Now I turn to the first example of bioethics. Abortion and contraception are one of the oldest bio-ethical subjects and has been discussed since decades, almost one century or even longer. It is a bio-ethical subject because it changes the meaning of life as seen technically. If life begins with birth, it is logically im- possible to kill a human before birth. But technically, it has become possible to kill a fetus. During the last century, it has become possible to do that without se- rious risks for the pregnant woman. So the question about the moral state of a living fetus could become relevant. Since some decades, contraception has become an improved practical way for having sexual intercourse without becoming pregnant. This technical innovation has changed our understanding about sex. And it also refers to the understanding of life. Is contraception a kind of killing or at least destroying human life? In all these cases new ethical problems have arisen by new technical possibilities. Since the eighties of the last century, there has been a further innovation, that is conception without pregnancy. This innovation is called In-Vitro-Fertilisation, in short IVF. It is possible to extract an egg from a female uterus and a male sperm and to unite them in vitro, beyond sexual intercourse and outside the body of a female. Such IVF is conception without pregnancy. Until now, it is not pos- sible to develop a human embryo outside the womb. An embryo could survive only some days...

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