Bioethics covers ethical questions about life that arise in the relationships between biology, nutrition, medicine, chemistry, politics (not to be confused with “biopolitics”), law, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, theology, etc. There is a disagreement about the appropriate domain for the application of ethics in biological issues. Some bioethics tend to reduce the scope of ethics to what is related to medical treatments or technological innovation. Others, however, believe that ethics should include what is related to all actions that can help or damage organisms capable of feeling fear and pain. In a broader vision, it is not only necessary to consider what affects living beings (with the capacity to feel pain or without such capacity),but also to the environment in which life develops, so it also relates to ecology.
The fundamental ethical criterion that regulates this discipline is respect for the human being, his inalienable rights, his true and integral good: the dignity of the person. Due to the intimate relationship that exists between bioethics and anthropology, the vision of this one determines and bases the ethical solution of each technical intervention on the human being.
Bioethics is often a matter of political discussion, which generates raw confrontations between those who defend technological progress in an unconditional manner and those who believe that technology is not an end in itself, but must be at the service of people and under the control of ethical criteria; or among those who defend the rights for some animals and those who do not consider such rights as something regulable by law; or among those who are in favor or against abortion or euthanasia. The first declarations of bioethics arise after the Second World War, when the world was scandalized after the discovery of medical experiments carried out by the Hitlerian doctors on prisoners in concentration camps. This situation, to which is added the dilemma posed by the invention of the fistula for renal dialysis of Scribner (Seattle, 1960), the practices of the Jewish Hospital of Chronic Diseases (Brooklyn, 1963) or the Willowbrook School (New York, 1963), they set up a panorama where regulation is necessary, or at least, the declaration of principles in favor of the victims of these experiments. This determines the publication of various declarations and bioethical documents worldwide.