Vol 13, Iss 2 – June 2021

We are proud to present the June 2021 issue, the second issue of this year’s volume 13, with a Special Section on the ethics of responses to COVID-19.

The June 2021 issue of the Asian Bioethics Review explores twin strands of reproductive ethics and pandemic politics, with an additional sub-theme of meaningful communication. In the opening paper of this issue, Nisha examines diverse feminist responses to the growing involvement of technology with human reproduction, in particular the effects on women’s choices, on the identity of the maternal self, and on roles and responsibilities. Alsomali and Hussein focus on a particular example of novel technological development in reproduction—CRISPR-Cas9—to examine the ethics of this new technology from both regulatory and religious perspectives. Arguing from the first principles of Islamic law (Maqasid al Shari’a) and related maxims (Qawaid Fiqhiyyah), their article posits that a defensible case for this technology can be made. Our third Original Article relating to reproduction strengthens the contribution of this journal in the realm of empirical research. Kuek et al. offer findings relating to attitudes towards the phenomenon of saviour siblings made possible by technological developments, and they set their discussion against the backdrop that much of the current literature on the ethics of this practice reflects a Western liberal perspective.

The article offered by Ong et al. is a further illustration of the potential value of empirical research. In this piece, the authors report on a qualitative study of focus group participants in Singapore invited to discuss perceptions of ‘precision’ and ‘personalised’ medicine. In particular, the work focusses on the role and importance of clear communication practices and strategies for engaging with publics on the introduction and use of such new techniques, as well as on the wider implications such as the need for extensive data analytics.

The second strand of papers in this issue relates to ethical responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kraaijeveld engages with the highly controversial practice of “lockdown”—in all the forms that this has taken around the globe—arguing against this practice and in favour of an altruistic approach that, in the author’s view, better preserves freedoms, has a greater chance of avoiding potential injustices, and can obviate a sense of being lost or powerless during these difficult times. Our ambition to capture countries’ experiences of dealing with COVID-19 is further realised by the papers from Lee and Kang and Hettiarachchi et al., respectively examining the contexts of South Korea and Sri Lanka. Lee and Kang challenge to a large extent the external perspective that South Korea’s response has been an unproblematic ‘success’; instead, they offer a compelling analysis of the actions and motivation of various groups within the country that have acted in very opposite and oppositional ways with respect to the pandemic and their support of, or rejection of, governmental policy. Hettiarachchi et al. offer commentary on one of the most draconian responses, in Sri Lanka, and their insights are valuable not only with respect to what was done in the country but also regarding lessons learned and (relative) freedoms earned as a result. The contribution from Lyngdoh brings this issue neatly back to the realm of philosophy; it can be seen as something of meta-commentary on all that has gone before in the COVID-19 articles that we have published to date. It focuses on the possibility/impossibility of community thinking, particularly in India. In our final paper on COVID-19, Ali et al. tackle the topic of misinformation during the pandemic, driven by the self-evident increase of the role of social media in people’s lives as they experienced lockdowns of varying degrees of severity.

A sub-theme of this issue has been the importance of meaningful communication. Thus, Ong et al. have explored various mechanisms and routes to productive engagement in the context of precision medicine, while Ali et al. have exposed the serious ethical risks related to misinformation, whether negligent, reckless, or deliberate. But in-between, there is also the crucially important cultural question of the language medium in which health-related communication itself takes place. Jayasinghe offers the example of Sri Lanka as a former colony of Britain and where once English was the official language of all formal communication. Albeit that this has been replaced by Sinhala and Tamil, English remains the principal medium of communication in healthcare. Through an historical account and understanding of language policies and practices, the author amply demonstrates how this leads to current day discrimination and marginalisation for many Sri Lankans and a real barrier to health literacy. This illustrates one particular example of the enduring invidious impact of colonisation, and it is a matter to which this journal is committed to return in the future.

All articles in this issue enjoy either Free Access (some via PubMed Central) or Open Access. They can all be downloaded and printed, even without a subscription – simply click on the title. The copyright of Free Access articles is shared by Springer Nature and the National University of Singapore. The copyright of Open Access articles remains with the respective authors.

Editorial – Free Access
Conception, COVID, and Communication
Graeme T. Laurie
June 2021 – 13(2): 129-132 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-021-00173-3

Original Paper – Free Access via PMC
Technicization of ‘Birth’ and ‘Mothering’: Bioethical Debates from Feminist Perspectives
Zairu Nisha
June 2021 – 13(2): 133-148 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-021-00169-z

Original Paper – Free Access via PMC
CRISPR-Cas9 and He Jiankui’s case: an Islamic bioethics review using Maqasid al-Shari’a and Qawaid Fighiyyah
Nimah Alsomali, and Ghaiath Hussein
June 2021 – 13(2): 149 – 165 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-021-00167-1

Original Paper – Free Access via PMC
Conception of Saviour Siblings: Ethical Perceptions of Selected Stakeholders in Malaysia
Chee Ying Kuek, Sharon Kaur a/p Gurmukh Singh, and Pek San Tay
June 2021 – 13(2): 167-178 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-021-00166-2

Original Paper – Open Access
Perceptions of ‘precision’ and ‘personalised’ medicine in Singapore and associated ethical issues
Serene Ong, Jeffrey Ling, Angela Ballantyne, Tamra Lysaght, and Vicki Xafis
June 2021 – 13(2): 179-194 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-021-00165-3

Original Paper – Open Access
COVID-19: Against a Lockdown Approach
Steven R. Kraaijeveld
June 2021 – 13(2): 195-212 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-020-00154-y

Original Paper – Open Access
COVID-19 Pandemic, Transparency, and “Polidemic” in the Republic of Korea
Cheol Kang, and Ilhak Lee
June 2021 – 13(2): 213-224 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-021-00164-4

Perspectives – Free Access
Ethical Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic—Lessons from Sri Lanka
Dineshani Hettiarachchi, Nafeesa Noordeen, Chanpika Gamakaranage, Rumesh Buddhika Somarathne, and Saroj Jayasinghe
June 2021 – 13(2): 225-233 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-020-00153-z

Perspectives – Open Access
The Possibility/Impossibility of Ethical Community during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Philosophical Reflection
Shining Star Lyngdoh
June 2021 – 13(2): 235-243 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-021-00168-0

Perspectives – Free Access via PMC
Ethics and health communications in English: Tackling the consequences of colonial era linguicism and racism
Saroj Jayasinghe
June 2021 – 13(2): 245-253 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-021-00172-4

Student Voices – Free Access
Is COVID-19 Immune to Misinformation? A Brief Overview
Sana Ali, Atiqa Khalid, and Erum Zahid
June 2021 – 13(2): 255-277 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-020-00155-x

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