Progress in the pharmacological, medical and biological sciences involves experimentation on all living species, including animals and humans. The effectiveness of medications investigative procedures and treatments must at some point be tested on animals and human beings. Although tests are conducted much more frequently on lab animals, especially those most related to humans, they do not provide sufficient information.
The history of medicine shows that there has always been a need for experimentation on human beings. Examples of these consist of the inoculation of Newgate prisoners in 1721, who had been condemned to death with Smallpox. In 1796, Edward Jenner, also studying Smallpox, inoculated an eight year old boy with pus from a diseased cow. The list goes on, and such experiments continue even until today.
Nowadays these experiments would be ethically and legally unacceptable. Nevertheless, there have been clear documented cases of abuse in recent times. An example of this is the experiments conducted by Nazi doctors on prisoners in the concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Does this mean that since there is potential for abuse, all experimentation should be banned? This would mean that society would be condemned to remain at the same level of knowledge (status quo)?
Bioethically speaking, how far can we go in the study of the human without crossing the line? The fundamental question is, since we are the ones drawing the line, where do we draw it?
The purpose of this essay is to provide a clear sense of the present law on this issue. Second, to review the problems raised by experimentation on animals. To show some different examples of bioethics. Third, to show the biblical view of the matter. Finally, to bring the reader to his or her own clear conclusion, without a bias opinion on the matter.
THE CURRENT STATE OF THE LAW
Biomedical experimentation on human subjects raises many complex legal problems that the law must deal with accordingly. For example, infringement on the rules subjects the researcher not only to criminal sanctions, but also civil sanctions (damages for harm caused), administrative sanctions (withdrawal of funds), or disciplinary sanctions (suspension from the researchers' professional association).
Since we are in Canada, there are two categories of law dealing with regulating experimentation. The first is Federal and Provincial Legislation. The second consists of documents, codes of ethics and reports, which while not necessarily enforceable, strongly urge researchers experiments on human subjects to observe certain standards of conduct.
FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL LEGISLATION
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms governs here. Some of its provisions in effect make certain kinds of experiments illegal. "Any experimental activity which endangers the protected values is thereof illegal."~ Another is according to current case law, "treatment" may be broadly construed rather than being limited to therapy.~
Criminal sanctions dealing with offences against the person make it possible to penalize those causing harm to a subject who has not given valid consent to an experiment. Explaining this, many experiments on humans are legal and performed everyday. No experiment is performed without a purpose. The most common is during surgery, the patients give valid consent to have experiments conducted on them during the operation.
With respect to medications, citizens of Canada are given protection by the Food and Drug Act. These laws control new medications into the market. Although this seems as though it contains no ethical procedures it touches upon the experimentation prior to the release of the medication. Many animals have been used in order to bring these medications to the market. Furthermore, humans must have been used during experimentation. According to the Law, any experiment performed on a person to bring out any new...
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