April 21, 2024

impossible dilemmas

Hi there,

This week we have highlighted some under-reported areas of bioethics — under-reported here at least (you can’t do everything). As you would expect, BioEdge normally focuses on the day-to-day issues you read about in Western newspapers – surrogacy, IVF, euthanasia, and so on. All of these trail political controversies behind them.

However, there are areas which doctors in Manchester or Chicago or Melbourne will never encounter. The principle of medical neutrality is one. If a doctor treats a gunshot wound in a hospital, she need not fear being arrested, let along tortured. But this is what happened to six medical professionals in Bahrain after violent protests during last year’s demonstrations. See the moving video from Physicians for Human Rights.

Perhaps even more removed from the daily round is discussion of transhumanism – using technology to create humans with capacities which transcend our current intelligence, strength – or morality. However, this is a topic which is growing in prominence among bioethicists for some reason. And recently, as we note below, the world’s first openly transhumanist politician has been elected to a national parliament (in Italy).

Finally, whatever your views on the proper limits to population may be, they probably don’t include sanctioning forced abortions. But that is the topic of the most recent novel by Mo Yan, a Chinese writer who has just won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Hopefully Wa (or Frogs) will soon be translated into English.


Michael Cook
The important principle of medical neutrality