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Bioethics

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Bioethics

Ramona (Campbell) Haggard

Bioethics, by definition, is the ethics of medical and biological research. There are a number of bioethical issues that are being carefully addressed as they arise. Some are easily remedied and some still remain very controversial. In this paper we will explore the use of genetic trait testing, access to genetic information as well as the issue of vaccinating or not.
With regards to bioethical related data the accessing, storing, gathering, and sharing medical data for the purpose of using the data for the scientific purpose of research is still a controversial issue in the scientific community. There is no basic problem with sharing medical data electronically, with the implementation of EHR, electronic health records. However, there is yet to be formal ethical guidelines established for the use of this data in the biological sciences community. There have been guidelines introduced for developing ethical principles with the ultimate goal of winning over the scientific community to incorporate the use of this data into their existing code of ethics. The scientific community has an obligation to share this data, if permitted by the patient, for research purposes. It also can be a major factor that could increase the trust of the public with regards to scientific research. Society also had concerns about employers having access to genetic information. (Duke & Porter, 2013) With the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA) employers are prohibited to use this information for the purpose of employment selection, firing or promotion. GINA also prohibits insurance companies from using genetic information as a means to accept or deny an individual coverage or charge them a higher premium because they may or may not acquire a genetic disease in the future. (National Human Genome Research Institute, 2012) One subject that is very controversial in the medical and scientific community is the aspects of biotechnology for the use of genetic testing. It raises the ethical issues regarding genetic testing for the purpose of selecting for genetic traits or for testing for possible genetic disorders before a couple decides to have children. Genetic testing for this purpose and the issue of abortion go hand in hand for some. When genetic testing is performed to determine if the embryo will be born with a certain disease in the family history, the embryos that are likely to acquire the disease are destroyed. Genetic testing is a new venture in the medical and scientific communities. There is much controversy with regards to genetic trait testing. This is a very new request being made by some in society and poses the question of being ethically acceptable in the scientific community. One of the questions that arose is about the difference between individual and societal ethics. (Yadavendu & Kumar, 2009) I can understand the need to want to make sure your child won’t be born with a genetic disorder or disease, however, wanting to make sure your child has the right family traits, specific eye color or hair color, is an ongoing ethical conundrum.
Another bioethical issue that has become a nation-wide public risk is regarding whether to vaccinate or not. Some have adopted the idea that the risks involved in getting a certain vaccine are greater than having the disease itself. This possess a public risk of a disease that can be cured or contained with a vaccine will or could become an epidemic. The prevention of the disease is the ultimate goal of vaccination. That is where the discussion and research of risk and prevention should begin. The goal of preserving and gaining the public trust is relied upon in order for vaccinating in the United States and around the world to be successful. Communication among policymakers, healthcare workers, and parents is imperative to the continued success of vaccination programs. All must work together in research and public awareness to educate the public about the risks of vaccinating or not. (Hoskins, 2010)
There are many technological advances and social developments that have changed the course of health and medicine. Working together for the good of medical care and research, bioethics tries to balance the complex ethical issues and challenges in modern medicine. Bioethics began as a social movement in the mid-twentieth century as a response to what society saw as inhumane practices in the health care system and in biomedical research. There were also various responses to those outcries concerning the cultural views involved. Society has the belief that bioethics will solve the visible problems that exist in the healthcare system. As long as the subject of bioethics remains a controversial issue, solving problems is going to be a slow process. (Schrecker, 2012)

Cited Sources
Duke, C., & Porter, J. H. (2013). The Ethics of Data Sharing and Reuse in Biology. Journal of BioScience, 483-489.
Hoskins, K. (2010). Evaluating Risk, Benefits, and Safety in Vaccine Policy. VacineEthics.org.
National Human Genome Research Institute. (2012, Marach 16). Retrieved from National Human Genome Research Institute Web site: http://www.genome.gov/24519851
Schrecker, T. (2012). Information about Bioethics and Social Science. Bioethics Today.
Yadavendu, V. K., & Kumar, D. (2009). Bioethics, medicine and society-A philosophical inquiry. Current Science, 1128-1136.

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