February 24, 2024

Serbian govt and media attack bioethicist

Defended by prominent colleagues in US and UK

Prof. Vojin Rakić 

A leading Serbian bioethicist is being attacked by the government and media in his country, prompting an open letter supporting him signed by some of the most prominent bioethicists in the US, the UK and across Europe.

Professor Vojin Rakić is the founder and head of the Center for the Study of Bioethics  in Belgrade. His research focus is moral bioenhancement and he has debated the issue in the Journal of Medical Ethics with Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson. The letter describes him as “an internationally well-known and highly respected scholar, who is a man of integrity and courage and a much-valued colleague”.

It appears that Rakić fell foul of the Serbian President,  Aleksandar Vučić, after criticising him for being an autocrat who was using pandemic measures to consolidate his power. Since then, says the letter:

Prof. Rakić has been persecuted by the current Serbian authorities through the use of false accusations and has been regularly victimised on TV programs and on the front pages of regime-run media in Serbia. This campaign includes having been wrongly accused of misrepresenting himself in his professional role in the International Network of the UNESCO Chair in Bioethics (Haifa), a gross misrepresentation of elements of his academic work, as well as an onslaught of defamation of his person and his family, with blatant lies about his private life and the private lives of his underage children.

One of the bullets used by the government’s media stooges is an article which Rakić published in the journal Sexuality & Culture earlier this year. In “Prostitutes, Sex Surrogates and Sugar Babies” he argued for the basic morality of prostitution. This was used by the web portal Republika to insinuate that he was an immoral fraud.  

Amongst the signatories are Art Caplan, of NYU Grossman School of Medicine; Peter Singer, of Princeton University; John Harris, of the University of Manchester; Erik Parens, of The Hastings Center; and Udo Schuklenk, co-editor of Bioethics.

Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge

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