UOW academic puts balance in euthanasia, abortion

A University  of Wollongong academic has released a book on hot topics such as euthanasia, IVF and abortion to help people make better informed decisions about their views.

Associate Professor Sarah Ferber said she presented a range of perspectives in her book Bioethics in Historical Perspective, released on Tuesday, to help readers draw their own conclusions.

"Medicine affects everybody, almost everywhere in the world we are interacting with medicine, every day or at crucial times, such as end-of-life care," she said.

"I try to be balanced ... it's very important when complex medical decisions are at stake people have a 360-degree understanding of the meaning and implications of medical decisions."

Prof Ferber examined the history of medical, religious, legal, ethical and political perspectives on bioethical topics including IVF and embryonic stem cell research.

She said when public policy was developed on IVF, the moral status of the embryo played the biggest role in shaping the law.

"The moral status of the embryo took precedence and I think that came from religious concerns," she said. "It tended to overshadow other implications for women undergoing IVF - fertility drugs can pose a health risk and the increased incidence of multiple births has increased the risk of children having developmental problems."

Prof Ferber said bioethics touched everybody at some point in their lives, especially when facing their mortality or the death of a loved one.

"If a clinician ends the life of a person on that person's request, is that murder, manslaughter or good medical treatment?

"That's the kind of question people writing the laws have to answer."

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