Vol 15, Iss 1 – Jan 2023

We are proud to present our January 2023 issue, the first issue of this year’s volume 15. The articles that open and close this issue of the Asian Bioethics Review each advocate for greater dialogue in bioethics, both in the realm of academia and more broadly in practice. As such, they frame the other contributions in this issue that amply demonstrate how diverse understandings of the role of bioethics across and within human cultures can inform and drive any such commitment to dialogue. The objective of promoting dialogue through diversity is central to the mission of ABR. We are very pleased to publish such a representative range of contributions that support this objective.

In the first article of this issue, Kashyap and Tripathi offer insightful commentary on India’s Surrogacy (Regulation) Act 2021, which came into effect on 25 January 2022. Against the social and commercial backdrop of the growing Indian reproductive sector, this piece of legislation was introduced ostensibly as a response to concerns about exploitation of women, abuses of human rights, and the so-called ‘commodification’ of motherhood. While undoubtedly stronger protections have been introduced in some respects, the authors highlight multiple ways in which this new law – driven by ‘moral conservatism’ – continues to fail groups and communities within India, particularly members of the LGBTQ+ population.

Risks of a different kind are the focus of the paper by Silva and Smith that examines the imposition of risk on some groups in an effort to promote public health for all. The authors point out that a robust account of the circumstances in which such risk imposition is legitimate remains elusive, and they argue for an approach that combines relational autonomy and relational justice to begin to remedy this concern. The explanatory power of such an approach lies partly in the ways in which it can be deployed to reveal imbalances of power and to inform dialogue and decision-making dynamics accordingly.

Informed consent has long been understood as having risk communication at its centre. And while this remains true today, ethical and legal developments now emphasise the equal importance of seeing consent as a dialogic process rather than a ‘moment’ in the provision of healthcare or recruitment to a research protocol. But understandings of the nature of informed consent invariably change across countries and cultures. This is well illustrated by the paper from Aluko-Arowolo et al. in the context of clinical trials in Nigeria.

The next two papers in this issue continue a theme that necessarily cuts across the work of a journal like the Asian Bioethics Review: capturing and understanding diversity of understandings and approaches to bioethics. The paper by Farid and Tasnim is an excellent illustration of this for its engagement with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam on various aspects of artificial reproductive technologies (ARTs).

Invariably, religious perspectives are most acutely called into question with the advent of new technological developments. The paper by Sabri et al. illustrates this well with respect to its discussion of Islamic law in the face of three-dimensional (3D) printing of organs for transplantation purposes. This technological possibility returns Islamic scholars and bioethicists to the enduring question under Islam: when, if at all, is it permissible to change the creation of Allah?

The authors of the previous article adopt a first principles approach to their interpretation of Islamic law. In much the same way, we see a similar approach being followed by Park in their analysis of the justification of a policy of mandatory vaccination for COVID-19 in South Korea. Here, however, the analysis is not of law but of the foundational principles concerning utilitarianism, as expounded in some of the classic texts that define this area of philosophical and bioethical scholarship. Park characterises the policy approach of South Korea as determinedly utilitarian, and proceeds to dissect it by reference to the two levels of utilitarianism presented by R.M. Hare. This policy is found wanting, and this is doubly so when subjected to critique from the principles of fairness laid down in the works by Rawls and Hart.

Our final article is a Perspectives Article that engages directly with recent work by Crump et al. that has sought to improve on models and guidelines relating to the evaluation of whether animals can feel pain. In the present piece, Veit applauds these efforts but seeks to go further. In particular, the author argues that more must be done to bridge the divide between scientific understandings of sentience and the downstream legal and ethical protections that might – eventually – result. To overcome any such divide, Veit argues for a multi-method and multidisciplinary approach that acknowledges that animal sentience itself is a multidimensional phenomenon. Moreover, and to return to the theme of dialogue, this last paper is an excellent example of the kind of dialogue we wish to support and promote in this journal.

Our publisher Springer Nature allows you to read all articles online for free, even if you do not have a subscription to ABR – simply click on the title. Additionally:

  • Free2Read articles can be downloaded and printed as well, if you have a subscription.
  • Free or Open Access articles can be downloaded and printed, even without a subscription.
  • Our articles since 2018 are also accessible via PubMed Central (PMC), where they become Free Access after 12 months.

The copyright of Free2Read and 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
Promoting Dialogue through Diversity in Bioethics
Graeme T. Laurie
January 2023 – 15(1): 1-3 – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00235-0

Original Article – Free2Read
The Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021: A Critique
Soumya Kashyap, and Priyanka Tripathi
January 2023 – 15(1): – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00222-5
Free Access from 1 January 2024 via PMC

Original Article – Open Access
Is the Cure Worse than the Disease? The Ethics of Imposing Risk in Public Health
Diego S. Silva, and Maxwell J. Smith
January 2023 – 15(1): – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00218-1

Original Article – Free2Read
Ethical Relativism and Circumstances of Social and Cultural Contingencies on Informed Consent in the Conduct of Research: Clinical Trials in Nigeria
Sola Aluko-Arowolo, Saheed Akinmayọwa Lawal, Isaac A. Adedeji & Stephen Nwaobilor
January 2023 – 15(1): – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00223-4
Free Access from 1 January 2024 via PMC

Original Article – Free2Read
Religions and Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Comparing Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Md Shaikh Farid, and Sumaia Tasnim
January 2023 – 15(1): – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00224-3
Free Access from 1 January 2024 via PMC

Original Article – Free2Read
Three-dimensional (3D) Printing of Organs according to the Perspective of Islamic Law
Anis Mursyida Sabri, Mohd Anuar Ramli, Noor Naemah Abdul Rahman, and Mohammad Naqib Hamdan
January 2023 – 15(1): – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00210-9
Free Access from 1 January 2024 via PMC

Original Article – Free Access
Applying Two-level Utilitarianism and the Principle of Fairness to Mandatory Vaccination during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Situation in South Korea
Sungjin Park
January 2023 – 15(1): – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00221-6

Perspective Article – Open Access
Confidence Levels or Degrees of Sentience?
Walter Veit
January 2023 – 15(1): – doi: 10.1007/s41649-022-00230-5


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