Guide Bioethics in cultural contexts : reflections on methods and finitude

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Nature and Scope of Bioethics

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Bioethics in Cultural Contexts: Reflections on Methods and Finitude - Google Books

Shelve Quo Vadis Medical Healing. He raised his hand and he expressed his disagreement with my opinion. To be honest, I was surprised; while he could not speak Greek well enough; he had the audacity to disagree with my views. He explained to us that he had been an athlete of judo that was removed from the national team of the Olympic Games in Athens, because he was diagnosed to suffer from a type of hepatitis.

He had caught the disease from unprotected sexual intercourse in Russia. It was precisely at that moment that I came face to face with a patient in my class, who explained to me -in his way- the ethical dilemma about the destruction of embryonic stem cells and the right of the adult patient to be cured with the new achievements of genetics. These terms refer to the body and they do not seem to have any spiritual and eschatological character or dimension.

Human pain and illness play an important role in our ethical teaching.

Jesus Christ focused on healing the sick, and he was very sensitive to human pain. His miracles teach us that healing should not only be considered in a spiritual way for our salvation, but also as merely serving the human body. Any research that intends to heal the human bodies is ethically acceptable. But, those who are in favour of embryonic stem cell research recognize that they balance in the moral dilemma between the destruction of human embryos and the treatment of already living patients.

Consequently, some of those who support the acceptance of therapeutic stem cell research put forward arguments centring on the moral status of human embryos at the blastocyst stage. For them, the issue is not simply the balance between the dignity of embryos and the problems of future patients, but the idea that the blastocyst has an absolute right to live. Importantly, however, this can be overcome in the context of the need for the treatment of other humans. Patients are persons with defective bodies who desperately seek treatment. Human foetuses have moral dignity, but their dignity is not equal to the moral right of a patient who is already alive.

The excessive reactions of persons toward such questions, as illness, are connected with the fear of death. When we hear a diagnosis from a doctor about a serious illness, we try with anxiety to verify if we are told the bare truth or there is something more that is hidden. We face the prospective of death with horror.

The fear of death can be interpreted sociologically. The accumulation of material goods, the health insurances, the pension, the deposits etc, in their depth conceal the confrontation of becoming old and the uncertain conditions towards our death.