Desde hace años en nuestro medio existe un genuino interés en conocer el significado del término bioética, y se le invoca tanto en cursos como en congresos, comités de ética de investigación o asis tenciales.

Habitualmente se dice que el neologismo bioética fue acuñado por Van Rensselaer Potter, destacado bioquímico, investigador en el área de la oncología básica en la Universidad de Wisconsin, quien lo utilizó por primera vez en Estados Unidos en el año 1970, en un artículo publicado en la revista Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, editado por la Johns Hopkins University Press, titulado Bioethics: The Science of Survival. Sin embargo, fue el pastor protestante y filósofo alemán Fritz Jahr quien en 1927 usó el término Bio-Etnik refiriéndose a la relación ética entre el ser humano, los animales y las plantas.


A subdiscipline of ethics that studies the way we investigate with living beings.

Throughout the history of humanity, human rights have been violated on multiple occasions, negative and positive repercussions have occurred on the scientific advances of biomedicine in human life, and the advancement of industrial society has been prioritized at the expense of damage that could be generated in ecosystems. In response, as a way of raising awareness, a new area was created a few decades ago within the general ethic: bioethics.

The principles of bioethics

Principle of Beneficence
In the medical field, this principle requires the health professional to make every effort to care for the patient and do what he can to improve his health, in the way he considers most appropriate.

Principle of non-maleficence

Medical practice has been associated with the Latin maxim Primum non nocere, “above all, not hurting” that Hippocratic physicians practiced and taught. This principle is different from charity, since the duty not to harm is more obligatory than the requirement to promote good.

Principle of autonomy
This principle is based on the conviction that the human being must be free of all external control and be respected in his basic life decisions. It refers to the respect due to the fundamental rights of man, including that of self-determination.

Principle of justice
It refers to the obligation of equality in treatment and, in respect of the State, in the equitable distribution of resources to provide health services, research, etc. Traditionally, justice has been identified with equity, with giving each one what he wants.
corresponds This justice or equity does not mean that all patients should be treated in the same way, but that each one should have access to adequate, dignified and basic medical services.

Current conflicts

Thus, based on the study of basic concepts of practical ethics, this discipline applied to the health sector also affects the always difficult problem of prioritizing healthcare resources, harmonizing them with the usual limitations imposed by a public health system; the possible conscientious objection that can be raised based on proper ethical criteria; kidney transplantation with decision making about implanting suboptimal kidneys or not, participating in the debate about the time of death; the participation of doctors and nurses in assisted reproduction centers and the eugenic drift of some of these sophisticated techniques; the problems arising from the widespread demand for on-demand sterilization as another resource for family planning; the ethical justification of the surgery of transsexuality and the attitude of acceptance or rejection that can provoke the request of voluntary interruption of the pregnancy and, finally, the implication of the health professionals in the situations of the end of the life with the conflicts of values that can be generated between doctor and patient when it is necessary to distinguish between practices contrary to good clinical practice and a correct limitation of therapeutic effort.


Trangenic plants

Transgenic plants are part of the group of so-called genetically modified organisms and are the result of the advance of experimental biology techniques, as well as the search for solutions to various problems of agro-industrial production.

Transgenic plants are part of the group of so-called genetically modified organisms and are the result of the advance of experimental biology techniques, as well as the search for solutions to various problems of agro-industrial production.


Euthanasia is the act or omission that accelerates the death of a terminally ill patient with the intention of avoiding suffering. The concept is associated with death without physical suffering.

Specifically we can establish that there are two types of euthanasia. Thus, on the one hand, there would be the so-called direct euthanasia, which is the one that comes to define the process of advancing the death of a person who has an incurable disease.


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