On July 25, 1978, the birth of Louise Joy Brown in the United Kingdom was global news. She was the world’s first “test tube baby,” conceived in a now-routine method of conception called in vitro fertilization (IVF). In 1996, U.K. scientists successfully cloned a sheep, which they named Dolly, proving that a viable mammal could be created from a single cell. Seven years later, in 2003, an international team of scientists completed the sequencing of the human genome, thereby creating untold opportunities for medical research. These are milestone events in a fascinating and, some would say, potentially frightening scientific frontier. To what extent should we manipulate nature for the betterment of humanity? What might be the consequences of the ability to alter nature at a cellular level? In Chapters 3 and 4 of Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Bioethics , we explored the ethical considerations of genetic intervention and reproduction. In this discussion, we examine medical technology and the ethical considerations of medical technology. Upon completion of this assignment, you should be able to: Identify the ethical issues of medical technology. Resources Textbook: Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Bioethics OCLS Video: Making Better Babies: Genetics and Reproduction – A Fred Friendly Seminar Website: U.S. Food & Drug Administration: Institutional Review Boards Frequently Asked Questions – Information Sheet Background Information As the pace and scope of breakthroughs in medical technology continue to expand, processes must be established to confirm the validity of the research, protect the health and welfare of participants, and ensure ethical practices are maintained in both the development and application of the innovation. These processes are, by necessity, both formal and informal. All research that involves people must be sanctioned by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). IRBs are statutorily mandated (Title 45, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 46) bodies designated to approve, monitor, and review biomedical and behavioral research involving humans. IRBs are an essential tools for ensuring both safety and benefit in medical research and understanding them is important for healthcare administrators. Once a capability becomes available, however, it moves beyond the formal review process. Decisions about the propriety of a procedure occur at the point of service. Circumstances and options can quickly become debatable. As illustrated in the video for this discussion, even experts will disagree on what is proper. In these situations, a strong ethical foundation will help the healthcare administrator create and foster morally defensible outcomes. Instructions Review the Institutional Review Boards Frequently Asked Questions – Information Sheet at http://www.fda.gov/regulatoryinformation/guidances/ucm126420.htm . Remember that IRBs are essential tools for ensuring both safety and benefit in medical research and understanding them is important for the healthcare administrator. Watch the video “Making Better Babies: Genetics and Reproduction – A Fred Friendly Seminar” [57:42] at http://tinyurl.com/k5xga4b . Navigate to the threaded discussion below and respond to these questions. Your answers should be at least one paragraph (150 to 200 words) in length for each question. What ethical principles apply to this discussion? What moral or ethical limits should be put on genetic testing and interventions? Should genetic engineering be legal? Should parents be allowed to “design” their children? What enduring biblical principles can be applied to influencing any technology that changes societal standards? For example, the discussion about in vitro fertilization (IVF) demonstrates how quickly technology can change societal standards. Your initial post is due by the end of the fourth day of the workshop. Read and respond to at least two of your classmates’ postings, as well as all follow-up instructor questions directed to you, by the end of the workshop.
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