Meet the leading thinkers in bioethics today, who are pondering the morality of our capabilities in medical science. Part 2/5.
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Male: According to Dr. Jessica Berg, many people are grappling with the issues that bio-ethics focuses on. She’s a professor of law and bio-ethics at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and the Department of Bio-Ethics at the medical school. According to Dr. Berg, the discipline of bio-ethics is dealing with some of the most current critical developments in our world today that have a profound impact on the lives of many. Dr. Berg: I think one of the nice things about working in the field is that when you have a conversation with someone, unlike some of the other specialized areas of law for example, people are very likely to say, yes, I know what you're talking about there. I read that on the newspaper. I dealt with that with my family member. I thought about that the other day when I was on my doctor’s office. There are things that you're dealing with day in and day out. And there are things that you're dealing with as a society. Male: The discipline of bio-ethics is expanding out from its roots of biology and philosophy into the field of law. While it is not yet been fully embraced by many law schools, she sees a growing interest because the issues that it deals with are now being debated in the core system. Dr. Berg: Bio-Ethics is a fairly young field, so it’s only been the past few decades that you've seen it to come to more prominence. It was traditionally something that was done through moral theology. I think it then have spread into applied philosophy and it’s only been much more recently that law schools and people trained in law have become much more interested in the questions. Mostly because there had been so many things wound up in the courtroom and people started to wonder, maybe there's a legal aspect to things that you're doing here. Male: Dr. Stuart Youngner is the chair of department of bio-ethics at Case Western Reserve. A pioneer in this relatively new discipline, he served as president of the Society for Bio-Ethics Consultation from 1994-1997. And is a founding member of the board of directors of the American Society for Bio-Ethics and Humanities. According to Dr. Youngner, people entering the field of bio-ethics are coming from widely diverse educational and professional backgrounds. Dr. Youngner: Well bio-ethics is a relatively new field, maybe say 30 or 40 years old. And it’s a field that is multi-disciplinary. Up to now at least there's been no one specifically trained as a bio-ethicist, so bio-ethicist maybe trained as philosophers. They may be trained in religious studies. They may be trained in the social sciences, sociology, and anthropology. They maybe lawyers, they maybe physicians, they maybe nurses. Male: Bio-Ethics, for Dr. Youngner, is a complex and critical discipline because it deals with the most fundamental issues in our lives. Birth, death, reproduction, quality of life, access of our citizens to health care, issues that have an effect on our laws, government, communities, and on every individual. Dr. Youngner: These questions now are things that have to be address and it’s really driven by medical technology. They are things that we have to decide about that we never had to decide about before. And it's really, it has to do with technology. So everything from health, long and how hard we tried to keep people alive when they're in the dying process? How much money our government spend on high technology versus other needs of the public. These are all very, very complicated questions that get at very fundamental moral values, religious values, personal values, and social values. And this is what makes it fairly complicated. Male: And according to Dr. Youngner, as the scientific knowledge expands and technology progresses the need for bio-ethical discourse is also growing every day. Dr. Youngner: And then there's the whole range of new research and clinical issues that get us into unchartered territories. Stem cells research for example. So without a bio-ethics presence