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Bioethics facts for kids

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Hippocrate refusant les présents d'Artaxerxès (original)
Hippocrates Refusing the Gifts of Artaxerxes by Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson

Bioethics is a field of ethics in philosophy that studies the ethical, legal and social issues in medicine and biology. It is often used to study how the new discoveries in science will affect humans, animals and nature. It discusses what decisions are "good" or "bad" and why.


The term bioethics (Greek bios, "life"; ethos, "moral nature, behavior") was coined in 1927 by Fritz Jahr.

Purpose and scope

The discipline of bioethics has addressed a wide swathe of questions ranging from debates over the boundaries of lifestyles (e.g. 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.

The scope of bioethics has expanded beyond biotechnology, and while including topics such as cloning, gene therapy, life extension, human genetic engineering, it can also include astroethics and life in space, and manipulation of basic biology through altered DNA, XNA and proteins. These (and other) developments may affect future evolution and require new principles that address life at its core.


One of the first areas addressed by modern bioethicists was human experimentation. According to Declaration of Helsinki published by the World Medical Association, the essential principles in medical research involving human subjects are autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice. The autonomy of individuals to make decisions while assuming responsibility for them and respecting the autonomy of others must be respected. For people unable to exercise their autonomy, special measures must be taken to protect their rights and interests.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Bioética para niños

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