Forum Bioethik

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Working group of bioethics Braunschweig

The dignity of man is unviolable as long as men are willing to protect it

What does the working group want?
To informe, to discuss,  to react
The developments in the field of medicine and biology (bioethics, gene tests, technique of genes, biotechnology and so on) threatens the dignity as well as the rights of countless people.
To draw attention to this threat and to counteract this, the workgroup of bioethics was founded in autumn 1997 as one of numerous groups in Germany who are critical of bioethics.
Every two weeks the working group invites the public to the meeting. Anyone who is interested in the critical questions involving the relationships between man and nature, is welcome to attend. The meetings also focus on attitudes and behaviours towards flora,, fawner and humans.

Why is  a working group for the theme of bioethics necessary?
To defend the dignity and rights of men
The reason to found this working group was a seminar held at Braunschweig University in the winter 1997/98. The seminar discussed the thesis of Peter Singer in a very uncritical way. Singer is the author of the book ‘Practical Ethic’ (1984) and he is a controversial advocate of euthanasia and bioethical philosophy.

What are the central points of bioethics?
Singer is of the opinion that people do not automatically have the right
to live, just because they exist. He insists that only for a „person“.To be  a „person“ they must have certain abilities. 
The person should be able
-to think rationally
-to be aware of his/ herself
-to be aware of tome
-to be able to communicate
-to be curious of his or her surroundings

The relativism of value 
In this philosophy only if the person fulfils these criteria he or she have the right to live. Thus this philosophy contradicts the fundamental principle of human rights; that every living person, without exception has the right to life; and that life must not be taken away by another.
Therefore these are the two central points; on the one hand the bioethical idea of a person and on the other the relative value of that person.
The idea that unborn  or new born babies; people in comas; or those elderly people who have dementia; do not have the right to belong to the human race is to deprive them of their fundamental human rights.

Practical Ethic
So for Singer and for other influencial people who are like minded, these people are not ‘persons’ as they do not fulfil his criteria. Therefore as they are not ‘persons’ and so relatives or in some cases legal representatives may be allowed to decide to terminate their lives.

In the network of bioethic
Of course, Singer holds an extreme opinion. But there is no reason to relax and lean back.Since quite some time there are developments in society which should make us think. What was defined as undemocratically, unsocial or unhuman a few years ago, becomes more and more part of every day life.? Human and basic rights are considered to be outdated and need to be changed. Democracy and social welfare are seen as obstacles and thus need to be cut back as soon as time has come.Should we -if we don’t remember the past - to be damned to live through it
once again?
-We comply to economical pressure and thus accept the political striving of transforming the social economy in a free-market economy. But if you look at human relationships under the aspect of costs and benefits, the treatment of ill people, being weak  and without a lobby, as well as the elderly, disabled or socially deprived people looses it’s human touch: What’s a human life’s worth? What it is useful for, what is it’s value and who decides this?
- Additional to the loss of the humanity of relationships among people, protection of unborn life is questioned and , moreover, the fact of making use of the dying ones to serve other people or make animals or plants more profitable. What is man allowed to do? And who decides and sets the limits?
- For a long time in discussions in universities and groups of experts, in talkshows or at congresses the right of human life is questioned. People with academical degrees and with the authority of specialized knowledge discuss the killing or use of the human being for experiments or organ banks.
It looks as if more and more people are of the opinion that the dignity of men is yet violable, that human rigths are not for all men, the life of men, animals  and plants aren’t sacred and there is no reason to respect life.

Protection against the application of biology and medicine?
The agreement on protection of human rights and the dignity of men in the context of biology and medicine - in the short form: Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine - was dismissed by the Council of Europe on the 19th of Novemeber 1996 and is displayed for ratification in the spanish Oviedo since the 4th of April 1997. The German Federal goverment doesn’t ratify it up to this day although they plan to.
The Convention was developed secretely since 1990 by a workgroup who were not legitimate either from parliament nor by any other democratic way and it became public by an indiscretion. The programmatical work title was until june 1996: Convention of bioethics.
Declared aim of the convention is to protect the human rights and the dignity of man. But it is rather the attempt to legitimate biotechnology research ethically and in jurisdiction ignoring human rights and ethical principles. The articles of the Convention state:
- that it possible to do human experiments with people who can’t give consent (mentally handicapped people, children, confused people, patients in coma or unborn and new-born) without there is a benefit for the test person (article 17).
- that embryos can be used for research if there is an adequate protection (article 18)
- that there are allowed manipulations at the germ line for preventive, diagnostic or therapeutic aims (article 13)
- that results of gene tests - without following the law of protection of personal data can be used for health research (article 12) and a lot more.

It is surprising that in contrast to all other Conventions on Human Rights, the right of individually file a complaint is denied in this Convention. Themes like euthanasia, organ transplantation, embryos protection or human genetic consultation are now discussed to be finally added to the Convention. Thus, the bioethical attack will conquer further parts of life.

When and where does the working group meet?
Every second tuesday at 8pm in the Brunsviga,
Braunschweig, Karlstr.35

Martin Vogt, Gerstäckerstr.23, D-38102 Braunschweig, 
Tel. 0531/ 79 44 74
Angelika Wessel, Wedderkopsweg 4,  D-38116 Braunschweig, 
Tel. 0531-506515 
Information-material and documents to different themes (for example technology of genes, prenatal diagnostic, biotechnology research, euthanasia, clone and other more)  can be borrowed for school- lessons, parishing work or for your personal use.
Date: July 2001

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