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580Challenges for Bioethics from Asia

Lessons on Thinking About Bioethics with High School Students

- Naoki Shiraishi.

Sumidagawa High School, Tokyo JAPAN

Email: naokish@mub.biglobe.ne.jp

From fiscal year 2001 to 2002 I ran a course of lessons on Bioethics arranged by the Adachi Shinden Metropolitan High School. Those taking this elective were about 30 students out of a total of 150 who were taking sports, health and welfare, and liberal arts as one of their academic subjects (one 2 hour lesson per week, counting for 2 units). After writing some basic background knowledge on the blackboard and explaining it, we watched a VTR (35 minutes). After a ten-minute break, I explained those points on which questions had been raised, and after additional clarification of easily misunderstood parts, we watched the second half. The VTRs were each about 60 minutes, and in the last ten minutes we discussed our impressions. When it was possible to make a little extra time at the end, this was used for as a question and opinion time.

Teaching Materials and Topics (in order) were {Lesson number, Teaching Materials, Set Questions, Students’ impressions}

1. Brain death, cloning, genetic medicine, Katoh Naotake, “As long as they bring no harm others, an adult with powers of judgment has the right of self-determination”, doping/drug-use/ should the right-to-die be recognized? Materials: Life and Organ Transplantation, Brain Death (1987 NTV documentary), Brain Death, What the New Death Leads To (NHK), Hypothermal Treatment of the Brain (NHK Special) Students: The will of the patient or the feelings of the family?  Is your body your own? Even though the person involved may see it as death, if the family sees things differently then difficulties arise. What should be done?

2. What is a cloned person? Is a clone an alter ego? Is our self determined by our genes? Can some cloning be permissible? Students: Clones will likely be discriminated against. Is this technology necessary for those wanting children? Medical science has advanced quite along way, but if it continues as it is, what on earth kind of society will arise?

3. In-vitro fertilization surrogate mothering, Print MAMA?PAPA?, I Want to Know My Parents AID (NHK). Who are the parents? What is a parent to a child? Is there a right to know your parents? Who is my self? The parents’ circumstances or the child’s rights? Students: I thought there is no helping it, but as in the case of baby M, if you bore the child yourself, wouldn’t you think that it was yours? It’s worrying if for the sake of business, a child is treated like a commodity. Won’t the parents’ convenience be given priority?

4. What does it mean to be human? Multiple personalities: The maternal relationship. What is family? Oneself and ones family How do we come to be who we are? Am I my brain? The brain develops within the family. Students: For people with multiple personalities, the help of someone, maybe a family member, and someone who understands them is very important.

5. Prenatal diagnosis. The parents’ desires.  What should we think about the conditions under which it is permissible and the probabilities involved? Students: Why is it done? Is a sick child pitiable? Who decides what happy is? Only the person themselves can decide whether they’re happy. A child who is sick might think themself pitiable, but I wouldn’t.

6,7,8. Barrier-Free Parts 1,2,3. What is a barrier (obstacle)? Where are they (society)? Can we choose our school? Is it necessary to distinguish (mark out) the disabled? Barriers in the heart (I am something special). How can we overcome these barriers in the heart? ADA, universal design, Would it be better to live and to have remedial schooling without segregating the disabled? Students: We shouldn’t take pity, but rather help to lower barriers. Each individual is different so it is very difficult to build a society all are happy with. If not only the disabled, but also the healthy learned sign language, then it wouldn’t be necessary to go to remedial schools. Both sides need to make an effort.

. pp. 580-582 in Macer, DRJ., ed., "Challenges for Bioethics from Asia" (Eubios Ethics Institute, 2004).

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