The Principles of Life (Oxford Biology)

Biological Sciences: Managing your Research Data
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As the Evans case shows, procreative liberties are often recognized as negative liberties women should not be prevented from carrying on their pregnancy , but this liberty is not applicable in cases of in vitro treatment when the Court recognized that here the father's right not to become a parent should prevail over the woman's interest in becoming a mother. This case may have many different interpretations. The Court took into account the assessment of the new reproductive technologies when it recognized the disruption of procreation and pregnancy in the case of in vitro treatment.

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However, the ethical theory it used is not clear, thereby showing that the logic of bioethics is not directly transferable into law which relies on traditional forms of rights and interests. If, in this instance, bioethics was of any influence then it was manifested only in reference to the main sources of bioethics. Lengthy hormonal treatment and invasive extraction of the human eggs pose significantly more of a burden on women than is the case with sperm donation. The main ethical dilemma of the Evans case, therefore, was whether biological differences in gamete donation could be taken into account in assessing the rights of male and female donors.

Furthermore, the Court missed the opportunity to recognize the difference between preventing someone from becoming a parent and the denial of the right to change opinion on biological parenthood. In the recent ECtHR case of RR v Poland , 31 the applicant was prevented from undergoing prenatal genetic testing within the statutory time limit within which abortion was still legal, despite her repeated requests to have access to a genetic test that could have confirmed whether her fetus was healthy. After several doctors in Poland refused to offer her the test, and when the genetic test was finally performed after significant delay, she had already missed the deadline for requesting an abortion.

Eventually, the baby was born with Turner syndrome. US jurisprudence on procreative liberties developed parallel to the recognition of rights to privacy. However, cases in the field of eugenic practices do often serve as a basis for critical reflections on genetics. Ever since the early eugenic episodes in science were reaffirmed by judicial acknowledgment, eugenic thinking and eugenic jurisprudence have served as a learning experience for the contemporary conception of how and what to regulate in science.

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Buck v Bell 37 is the seminal eugenic decision of the US Supreme Court, and is still one of the most frequently cited cases in the fields of disability, gender, and bioethics. The Supreme Court determined that the Equal Protection Clause prohibited the enforcement of the Oklahoma statute which required sterilization of persons who had been convicted of certain specified crimes. The distinction between categories of crimes, nevertheless, indicated a hidden eugenic pattern of thought. Roe v Wade 43 provided a trimester framework that guided states on whether they may regulate some elements of abortion.

Furthermore, the Roe v Wade Court recognized the privacy rights of the pregnant woman and her attending physician in deciding about termination of pregnancy during the first trimester. Later, the Casey case 44 offered new possibilities for regulation provided that they do not pose an undue burden on women.

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However, although abortion cases are often cited in the context of new reproductive technologies, significant moral and practical differences between in vivo and in vitro embryo question or at least reduce the applicability of these norms. The possibility of extra corporal reproduction has resulted in numerous legal problems, such as postmortem reproduction, custodial rights over the embryo, right to identity, and medical confidentiality. In Hecht v Superior Court, 45 the Court did not find any public policy that would prohibit or deny postmortem insemination and, as a consequence, they granted access as the late partner had clearly expressed his wish before his death.

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In the context of new reproductive technologies, access to IVF treatment seems to pose different kinds of legal problems in the United States than in Europe. Although birth may establish maternity, the Court developed a different standard by referring to genetic consanguinity and intention expressed by the genetic parents to raise the child. One of the most sensitive issues in current bioethics is the research conducted on the surplus, in vitro human embryo.

Arguably, this could encompass the destruction of human embryos in an adequately safeguarded process for the purpose of hESC derivation. The more p. The Constitution of Ecuador in Article 49 1 explicitly prohibits research on human embryos.

Biology: Exploring the Diversity of Life

Germany and Switzerland prohibit all forms of human cloning whereas others, among them the United Kingdom, China, and Israel, allow the creation of cloned human embryos for research. A distinction should be made between cases where research on the human embryo is allowed for the purposes of improving reproductive technologies and cases where the embryo is harvested in order to produce embryonic stem cell lines. When human biological materials are used as building blocks for stem cells, usually the act of harvesting biological materials poses other types of legal issues as it might involve an instrumentalization of the human body.

In these new types of research, bodily substances are used in two different ways: they are used not only as sources and objects of scientific observation but also as materials for creating cell lines. The influence of bioethics can also be seen in the latest development of the patentability of biotechnological inventions in the field of regenerative medicine. In order to provide the effective and harmonized legal protection of biotechnological inventions, the embryo needs to be given an autonomous definition in EU law. The decision did not, however, make a distinction between embryos according to their origin, developmental phase, and acceptable uses, a distinction key to national regulations on embryonic research.

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The need of the biotechnology industry for human embryos and their use for embryonic stem cell research and for therapy often results in incoherent legal solutions. In , the Brazilian Supreme Court 55 upheld the Biosecurity Law that allowed the destruction of human embryos for the purposes of creating embryonic stem cell lines, while abortion has remained restricted in the country. In the United States, political ideological conflicts govern the issues of embryo research. The federal ethics committee created under the Clinton administration, the National Bioethics Advisory Commission NBAC , in its report 58 accepted that ethical positions regarding the moral status of the human embryo differ in society and different sources of human embryos may attract different moral positions.

The liberal ethical position on the federal level changed when in a report from the President's Council on Bioethics, 60 appointed by the Bush administration, suggested that in the United States the protection of human life from the earliest stages of development, including the human embryo, is an ethical norm widely accepted in society. However, a state constitutional amendment granted a right to conduct stem cell research in California.

It emphasized that ethically acceptable sources of hESC lines exclude cell lines which necessitate the creation of embryos for research purposes or destroying, discarding, or subjecting to harm a human embryo.

Research domains

The Executive Order envisioned the United States progressing in biomedical research while maintaining the clearly established ethical boundaries and standards of medical research and respecting human life and dignity. The debate reached another turning point in when the Obama administration reviewed the federal funding moratorium imposed in The Executive Order 63 emphasized the necessity of hESC research for the purposes of enhancing human biomedical knowledge and creating new therapies.

Biotechnological inventions enjoy broad protection in the US Constitution and jurisprudence. The breakthrough in the history of biotechnological patents p. In , a preliminary injunction created uncertainty in the field of financing research on embryonic stem cells. The main issue was whether the National Institutes of Health should fund additional research projects on stem cells that involve the destruction of the human embryo.

One year later, the District Court ruled in favor of the National Institute of Health and removed this injunction. As methods of intensive therapies have significantly increased the possibilities for artificial prolongation of human life, several issues have been raised. Who should decide on the health care of the terminally ill? Who can substitute the decision of a patient in a persistent vegetative stage? The principle of autonomy can serve as an ethical basis in cases where the terminally ill are still capable of expressing their wish.

As suffering and death take many forms, diverse solutions have emerged to face this medico-legal problem in different cultures and legal systems. The simultaneous existence of individual autonomous action and the assistance of a physician or a relative usually lead to legal proceedings.

In all euthanasia debates, an accurate legal delineation between different forms of ending life is very difficult to achieve. Voluntary active euthanasia is legalized only in the Benelux countries while assisted suicide is not regarded as a crime in Switzerland. But what constitutes passive euthanasia is still debated in several jurisdictions.

Alternately, these decisions may be treated as outside the realms of the courts and may be left in the hands of physicians. The Dutch position was the first directly to target the issue of this confidentiality in end of life decisions and Dutch statutory law gradually developed based on the analysis of the publication of confidential decisions on ending life based on, and even without, the patient's request.

The most significant case on the legal dilemmas of assisted suicide appeared in Pretty v United Kingdom. She requested the ECtHR to give her authorization for her to end her life in dignity and to guarantee her husband freedom from prosecution if he assisted her in committing suicide, an exemption that was denied in the United Kingdom. She claimed that the right to life also includes the right to self-determination in life-related issues.

Consequently, life is a right and not an obligation. She submitted that this included the right to choose when and how to die, and that nothing could be more intimately connected to the manner in which a person conducted her life than the manner and timing of her death. The judges in Strasbourg concluded that the individual had no right to death, or life, in the sense that the legal system should accept the right to assist any suicide as a general principle. However, the Court acknowledged that. In an era of growing medical sophistication combined with longer life expectancies, many people are concerned that they should not be forced to linger on in old age or in states of advanced physical or mental decrepitude which conflict with strongly held ideas of self and personal identity.

The Pretty case generated significant debate on autonomy and terminal illness. Since then, several European countries, including Austria and Finland, have enacted laws on the recognition of continuing power of attorney which provide stronger guarantees of the self determination of the terminally ill. One of the main dilemmas in bioethics occurs when the principle of autonomy clashes with the principles of non-maleficence.

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In the language of constitutional law, similar hard cases appear when individual liberty and state interest in protecting life demand different solutions in cases of end of life decisions. In the United States, there has been a piecemeal development of the recognition of liberty rights in the field of terminal illness. Thus, the lower court cases of Karen Quinlan , 72 Bouvia , 73 and Re Conroy, 74 and the Supreme Court Cruzan 75 case provided the main pillars of the recognition of some forms of euthanasia in cases of terminal illness or of persistent vegetative state.

In Cruzan , although the US Supreme Court affirmed that the legal requirement of Missouri on clear and convincing evidence of the will of the patient who is no longer capable of expressing her wish does not violate the Constitution, it still provided a constitutional basis embedded in the liberty interest to encompass the wish to p.

However, this development towards extending liberty interests in end of life decisions was interrupted when the issue of whether medical assistance in suicide can be granted reached the Supreme Court in the Washington v Glucksberg case.

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End Matter References Index. The turn occurred around when the Human Genome Project 6 and the possibility of cloning mammals put bioethics at the forefront of human rights debates. Thus, there are boundaries on the kinds of explanatory inferences that can be drawn from reductionist research strategies. Building on this perspective, Ingo Brigandt suggests that there is no single, linear hierarchy among scientific fields e. I feel like I understand the issues much better now.

In Washington v Glucksberg , 77 the US Supreme Court failed to recognize a fundamental right to access medically assisted suicide, based on the request of the dying patient. The Court's reasoning was based on a historical argument, rather than acknowledgment of the conditions of liberty rights. Different layers of statutory law may further shrink liberty interests: as exemplified by the issue in Gonzales v Oregon 78 in , when the US Supreme Court ruled that State Attorneys General could not enforce the Federal Controlled Substances Act against physicians who prescribed drugs for assisted suicide in compliance with Oregon state law.

2. Historical Background: Philosophical and Scientific

Beginning with a new essay, Levels of Life and Death, Tibor Gánti Biological Sciences > Evolutionary Biology > The Principles of Life. This means that the chemoton model is the minimum model of life. a philosophy of the units of life applicable to genetics, chemistry, evolutionary biology, and.

Outside the United States and Europe, a law legalizing euthanasia was adopted in the Northern Territory of Australia in , 79 but was nullified by the federal parliament two years after it went into effect.