The Ethics Committee of the Turkish Medical Association

- Berna Arda, MD

Faculty of Medicine, Unit of Deontology (Medical Ethics) Sihhiye-Ankara, Turkey

Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics 5 (1995), 156.
Some papers and the related comments about developments in Turkey were published in the previous issues of EJAIB. It is known that the non-governmental organizations are quite important in this field. There are two new bodies, the Ethics Committee of the Turkish Medical Association and the Bioethics Society of Turkey, the first one is presented in this paper.

The Ethics Committee of the Turkish Medical Association (ECTMA) which had its first meeting in February 1994, has among others, the following aims:
1) to develop solutions to the ethical problems on specified issues, proposed by TMA,
2) to take a central role in the education of the central council of TMA and the physicians' chamber,
3) to prepare certain working programs on ethics.

Members of the committee are academics from the fields of Meidcine, Dentistry, Biology, Nursing, Philosophy, Medical Sociology/Anthropology and Law interested in "health and ethics". There is no administrative officer or staff in this committee. One third of the Committee's members will be appointed at the end of a three year period. ECTMA meets twice a month, these meetings are closed to the public but press announcements have been made regularly. The Committee strives for consensus, reserving the use of voting only when necessary, and has produced more than seven reports during its first year of activity.

So far ECTMA has been investigating the following subjects and producing documents there of:
1) View of the ECTMA on the draft law for amendments in the law on the Procurement, Preservation, Grafting and Transplantation of Organs and Tissues,
2) The Regulations on organ transplantation centers on Turkey,
3) A draft protocol for brain dead patients, convention,
4) A report on the draft of European Bioethics
5) The view of ECTMA on the examinations of hymen,
6) The approach of ECTMA on the use of medical techniques for sex determination,
7) The ethical problems involved in cornea transplantation.

Currently, ECTMA is interested in "the ethical problems about mentally handicapped women's pregnancies", "the application of electro-shock therapy to psychiatric patients in the light of ethics", "alternative medicine activities against scientific medicine in Turkey"

Finally, and as one of the secretaries of the Committee, I want to mention the use of medical techniques for sex determination. As a result of certain historical, cultural and economic factors, the sexual preference of the society in Turkey is for sons. Because of this preference some sex selection firms arose and the sperm separation methods are already being used. The use of these procedures without permission prompted new legal and ethical considerations. Following the commercial advertisements of these firms, some non-Governmental Organisations such as the ECTMA and the Turkish Genetics Society have begun to discuss this procedure in the Council of Health, which was established by legislation by 1930, prohibited this application in the absence of X - linked diseases.

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