Bioethics in a Secular Perspective

- Berna Arda (Associate Professor, M.D., Ph.D.), &

-Serap Sahinglu Pelin (M.D.),

Unit of Medical Ethics, Ankara Medical Faculty, Sihhiya, 06100 Ankara, TURKEY

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 5 (1995), 95-6.
In connection with our article entitled "Bioethics in Turkey in 1995" and published in EJAIB 5 (1995), 64-65, Dr. M.A. Anees has written a "Commentary" in the same issue, stressing the religious aspects mentioned in our text. We thought we might briefly emphasize certain related points, particularly from a secular point of view. As should generally be appreciated, the principle of laicism has a great influence on legislation and on the world-view of a society, in bioethics as well as generally. Thus, religious edicts has no direct or formal impact on legislation in Turkey which has a laic order. Such edicts become only necessary when popular support is needed in the context of modern medical developments and /or health problems in general.

In the case of organ and tissues transplantation, there is no clear indication in the related law whether it concerns all the organs and tissues; instead of enumerating all the organs which the dead donors is made (1). We see the same distinction in a somewhat recent article by a "religious authority" (2), who has also incorporated scientific and secular considerations in his text. The issue is frequently discussed in different academic/professional contexts (e.g. ref. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

In the case of abortion, and as has clearly been indicated in our article, the (secularly) legal text (9) has the "last word" in principle so far as medical practice is concerned. In this subject, too, academics from different disciplines discuss the issues involved (ref. 10, 11, 12, 13).

As for euthanasia, there is as yet no legal formulation permitting its application. in any case, however, it would be a secular and definitely no religious law concerning the issue. This topic, too, becomes a matter of debate in the circles of medical ethics (5, 14).

When we come to genetic engineering, it seems that the speed of scientific/technical developments and their socio-ethical implications will bring in their wake the need for legislation at different levels. Ethics and genetics in general (15), the ethical aspects of genetic engineering and the Human Genome Project (16), and the use of medical techniques for sex determination (17) are bioethical topics which have been discussed in Turkey.

References * (In Turkish)

1. The law on procurement, preservation, grafting and transplantation of organs and tissues; Official Gazette, Law no. 2238, dated 29.5.1979.*
2. Yucel, F. "Organ and tissue transplantation from an Islamic perspective". Diyaliz, Transplantasyon ve Yanik (Dialysis, Transplantation and Burn) 7 (1): 35-40, Dec. 1993. *
3. Arda, B. "Organ transplantation in Turkey from the viewpoint of medical legislation", Second Scientific Congress of the Turkish Society for Organ Transplantation, Ankara, 8-9 Nov. 1994; Transplantasyon 1994, M. Haberal (ed.), Haberal Egitim Vakfi, Ankara, pp. 257-261 .*
4. Kutlay, N. "Living with the living - organ and tissue transplantation from an ethical point of view", same as ref. 3, pp. 245-255.*
5.Oguz, Y. ""Oriental' approach to death", Third Mediterranean Meeting on Bioethics Acireale, 28 Oct. - 2 Nov. 1994; Quaderni di Bioetica e Cultura 3: 75-85, 1995).
6. Ors, Y. "A matter of life and death: pitfalls in the ethics of organ transplantation", Global Bioethics, In Press.
7. Terzioglu, A. "Organ transplantation and the related ethical issues", Tibbi Etik (Turk. J. Med. Eth.) 1 (1): 35-52, 1993. *
8. View of the Turkish Medical Association's Ethics Committee on the draft law for amendments in the law on ...(see ref. 1) Nov. 1994.*
9. On population planning, Official Gazette, Law no. 2827, dated 24. 5. 1983.*
10. Erez, S. & Oktay, M. "The possible psychological and ethical problems of abortion", Hekim Forum (Physicians' forum) 6: 43-45, 1991. *
11. Fisek, N. "Thoughts on the 1985 census", Toplum ve Hekim (Society and the Physician) 39: 7-9, 1985*
12. Ozgen, E. "The latest situation in Turkey in the criminality of abortion", Nufusbilim Dergisi (Tur. J. Popul. Studies) 6 (1984), 5-25. *
13. Sahinoglu-Pelin, S. "The fact of abortion from the viewpoint of medical ethics", Bilim ve Utopya. (Science and Utopia) 8.8, 1995. *
14. Terzioglu, A. "Euthanasia and the related ethical problems", Tibbi Etik 2 (1): 16-21, 1994.*
15. Bokesoy, I. & Goksel, F. A. "Ethics and medical genetics in Turkey", Ethics and Human Genetics: A cross-cultural perspective, J. C. Fletcher and D. C. Wertz (eds.), Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg, 1989.
16. Sokesoy, I. & Arda, B. "The ethical and social aspects of the human genome (HUGO) project", Tibbi Etik 1 (1): 22-26, 1993.*
17. View of the Turkish Medical Association's Ethics Committee on sex determination. Dec. 1994.*

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