Morality is a group of standards and principles that differentiate from right and wrong. It describes the rules that governs our behavior, and without these rules in place, societies cannot survive for long. Morality ensures fair play and harmony between individuals, and aids in making us good people in order to have a good society. Morality refers to norms about the right and wrong things people perform in a social setting. It can be a standard that a person believes should be universal or it can be derived from a code of conduct from a particular profession, philosophy, religion, culture, etc. Bioethics is one of these particular moralities that specify the moral norms in health field institutions.
“Morality is not something we have to calculate, it is something we feel, and those feelings are part of our very nature, and they exist, because they benefit both us and others.”(Eamonn Butler, 2011). The moral foundation was introduced by social and cultural psychologists in order to understand morality and why it carries widely across different groups with different cultures and belief. They arrived to a conclusion which explains that there are five foundations of common morality: care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation. These common moralities are also known as universal ethics, which has the connotation of something that every person whether or not they are believers or non-believers can accept.
Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish,Hindu, or Buddhist, there is a set of values that are constantly accepted by everyone and are crucial to follow in effort to achieve happiness. Ethics is a way of conduct that by engaging in, makes you happy. Universal morality includes particular moralities, or non-universal moralities. These specific moralities are determined by the specificity of their norms, which are not morally justified if they contravene with the common morality.
These include different responsibilities, ideals, feelings, attitudes sensitivities found in different culture, professional groups or religious traditions. In order to explain these behaviors there is a need in understanding these particular moralities by scholars and experts. For instance, Muslim women wear hijab and therefore cover their body. This is lawful and a moral norm in the Islamic religion. However, in other religions this may not be mandated. The same idea exists within the members of profession or an institution; they have a set of moral guidelines that vary from one profession to another.
Like universal morality that is accepted by morally devoted people, most professions have guidelines that are recognized by those in the profession who are honest about their moral responsibilities. Bioethics is an example of these particular moralities as it is the intersection of medicine, philosophy, theology and law. Bioethics are part of applied ethics, usually identified with the medical field. In its broadest sense, it protects the right of the patient and addresses the social and political problems that arise out of biology and life sciences generally or out of new development in medical technology.
Moreover, it directly or indirectly involves human well being. Bioethics morality consists of three main principles; respect of autonomy(obligation of respect of the decision making of the patient) “The principle of respect for persons thus divides into two separate moral requirements: the requirement to acknowledge autonomy and the requirement to protect those with diminished autonomy.”(principles of biomedical ethics,Jones & Bartlett); non maleficence (the obligation to avoid causing harm); beneficial (obligation to provide benefits, and balance them against the risks).
Doctors and health care professionals are obligated to follow these rules to maintain health in humans through the application of the principles and procedures of evidence-based medicine and caring. However, sometimes doctors and health care professionals come across situations where it’s hard to make a decision between two possible moral imperative problems, neither of which is acceptable or preferable. This is known as moral dilemma. “ Moral dilemma are circumstances in which moral obligations demand or appear to demand that a person adopt each of two alternative but compatible actions.”(Principles of Biomedical Ethics,pg12). For example, abortion is a very painful topic for women and men who find themselves facing the moral dilemma of whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. It is one of the most debated and controversial topics.
Those who are “pro-life” argue that intentionally caused abortion is always wrong, because they think of it as killing an innocent life. On the other side, are those known as “pro-choice” or supporters of “abortion right”, and who regard intentional abortion as acceptable in some circumstances, because women have the basic right to decide when or whether to have children. Therefore, many people feel particularly strongly about abortion, because there is no way of getting a “correct” opinion about the issue making it a moral dilemma.
Another example is that of a 17 years old football player, Beene who snapped his neck during football practice and became paralyzed. His family and the community were divided over the use of stem cell research. His family wanted to help him get better, but the community opposed the use of stem cell research. Therefore, Beene’s family and supporters started a letter writing campaign to persuade president Bush at that time who was torn between two imperative decisions, to support funding for at least some embryonic stem cell research. “Bush is considering his positioning on permitting government funding to pay for controversial stem-cell research. He is being bombarded with emotional appeal from both side on the issue.” The use of embryonic stem cell research is a moral dilemma, because it forces people, here president bush, to choose between two moral principles, the duty to prevent or alleviate suffering , or the duty to respect the value of human life.
In conclusion, as technology advances and medical procedures/research expand, new treatments are created. Unfortunately, new conflicts in medical science begin to arise as well. Whether it’s abortion, stem cell research, disclosing medical conditions and much more, doctors and other health professionals must aim to follow bioethics rules hoping for the well being of the patient. Respecting their cultures and beliefs by giving them the right of autonomy, maleficence and beneficial is very important.