INTERNATIONAL stalwarts in the field of bioethics will gather in the University next month to discuss from the ethical and moral standpoints as well as resolve some sticky debates on continuously advancing scientific and medical interference in the life process.

The Vatican-based Pontifical Academy for Life, UST, and the Office of Bioethics of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines will sponsor the International Congress on Bioethics 2005 at the St. Thomas Aquinas Research Complex on Dec. 5 to 7.

Led by no less than the Holy See’s chief bioethicist, Bishop Elio Sgreccia, the event is in celebration of the 10th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), which called for the choice and protection of life in all its stages—the Catholic Church’s answer to the then deafening issues of abortion and euthanasia.

According to Fr. Fausto Gomez, O.P., College of Nursing regent and executive director of the event, this will be the first Vatican meet on bioethics in the Christian perspective to be held in Asia. He said the choice of UST as venue only emphasizes the fact that the University is a beacon for the Church’s teachings in a region that is disregarding biotechnology’s moral implications in the name of profit and progress.

“UST stands for life, being the only Pontifical University in the Philippines,” Gomez told the Varsitarian.

The University has been preparing for the event since talks last year between Pontifical Academy for life president Sgreccia, and Gomez.

Themed Celebrating the Gospel of Life: Basic Issues in Bioethics, the three-day congress will gather delegates from around the globe and renowned bioethicists such as Dr. John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Boston, Massachusetts, and Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher, O.P.

Edsa sa mga musmos na mata

Haas will talk on the ethics of reproductive technology, while Fisher will tackle embryonic and adult stem cell research with Dr. Kiyoshi Aoki, professor of Life Sciences and Neurology at Sophia University of Tokyo.

Bioethics in Asia

The congress comes at a time when key economies in the Asian region such as China, Singapore, Japan, Korea, and Australia are opening the gates to advanced stem cell research, hoping to get ahead while the West is busy debating on its moral repercussions.

In the local scene, meanwhile, are the efforts by certain congressmen to draft laws allegedly for population control and reproductive health development, but which have been rejected by some sectors as disguised attempts at the legalization of abortion and unregulated use of artificial birth control.

In 2003, the University opposed for serious health and bioethical reasons House Bill 4110 or the proposed reproductive health care law for seeking to remove strictures on “healthy” contraceptives. The bill was junked by the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations on Jan. 13, 2004, because of unresolved issues.

More recently, the UST again rallied against House Bill 3773, which proposed the two-children-only policy, and voluntary sterilization with parental consent for minors and without parental consent for the married.

Gomez said the congress hopes to help determine not only what is legally correct, but more importantly what is morally upright.

Other speakers in the conference include Dr. Brigit Vout of the Archdiocese of Sydney’s Life Office, Fr. John Fleming of Campion College, Australia, South East Asian Bioethics Center executive director and former UST Medicine dean Dr. Angeles Tan-Alora, and Atty. Ma. Elena Enriquez, M.D. of the Faculty of Civil Law. K. P. Bayos

Law SC presses for constitution


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.