Texts in english language
Working group of bioethics Braunschweig
The dignity of man is unviolable as long as men are willing to protect
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
What are the central points of bioethics?
Singer is of the opinion that people do not automatically have the
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.
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
-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
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
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
- 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
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,
Martin Vogt, Gerstäckerstr.23, D-38102 Braunschweig,
Tel. 0531/ 79 44 74
Angelika Wessel, Wedderkopsweg 4, D-38116 Braunschweig,
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