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Bioethics

Bioethics is the study of typically controversial ethics brought about by advances in biology and medicine.

It is also moral discernment as it relates to medical policy, practice, and research.

Bioethicists are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the relationships among life sciences, biotechnology, medicine, politics, law, and philosophy.

It also includes the study of the more commonplace questions of values ("the ethics of the ordinary") which arise in primary care and other branches of medicine.

The field of bioethics has addressed a broad swathe of human inquiry, ranging from debates over the boundaries of life (e.g. abortion, euthanasia), surrogacy, the allocation of scarce health care resources (e.g. organ donation, health care rationing) to the right to refuse medical care for religious or cultural reasons.

Bioethicists often disagree among themselves over the precise limits of their discipline, debating whether the field should concern itself with the ethical evaluation of all questions involving biology and medicine, or only a subset of these questions.

Some bioethicists would narrow ethical evaluation only to the morality of medical treatments or technological innovations, and the timing of medical treatment of humans.

Others would broaden the scope of ethical evaluation to include the morality of all actions that might help or harm organisms capable of feeling fear.

The scope of bioethics can expand with biotechnology, including cloning, gene therapy, life extension, human genetic engineering, astroethics and life in space, and manipulation of basic biology through altered DNA, XNA and proteins.

These developments will affect future evolution, and may require new principles that address life at its core, such as biotic ethics that values life itself at its basic biological processes and structures, and seeks their propagation.

Note: This article excerpts material from the Wikipedia article "Bioethics", which is released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

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