Following an enthralling opening day on Thursday, BioEthika, a three-day Asian parliamentary debating championship, continued in full swing on Friday and Saturday at the Forman Christian College University.

Sharing his views about the event, president of the Senior Biology Society, Ahsan Shahzad, said: “BioEthika is the first event of its kind and we really hope that we are able to convert it into something bigger and better next year.”

BioEthika Secretary General Esha Amir said: “We aimed to bring to light ethical issues in biology and promote constructive debate on how far advances in science can go without crossing the line of what is ‘ethically acceptable’ and I think we did manage to pull it off.”

On Friday, participating teams were up against each other for two knockout rounds of the semi-final. Topic in the first round was ‘If sale of human organs should be legalised’, while in the second round, the teams contested whether ‘Patenting of genes should be allowed’.

During round one, the proposition put forward some interesting ideas, saying that since legalising sale of human organs can help improve the quality of life of the donor and recipient, then instead of letting organs be sold illegally in the black market, the state should legalise it. However, this idea was opposed through the argument that legalising organ sale would eventually lead to legalising everything in black market such as hard drugs and human trafficking for the benefit of a few.

The opposition argued that people did not have the right to sell their organs, as that would mean legalising abortion and other unethical measures. They proposed they were not against human organ transplantation or donation however, selling them on humanitarian grounds seemed inappropriate as this could result in social discrimination, moral issues and exploitation of the poor.

In the second round, the proposition argued patenting of genes had made survival of human race possible. They said copyrights could help with research in the field of genetics. The opposition said nature could not be patented and research was hindered by patenting; if patenting fell into wrong hands, chances of a biological war were likely. The second day concluded with a fun-filled musical night.

The final round of the championship was held on Saturday between Ameeruddin Medical College as the opposition and King Edward Medical College as proposition. The topic under discussion was ‘The right to die’ and both teams managed to put forward some important points about euthanasia. The proposition argued the choice of a terminally ill patient should be respected, especially given the democratic values of society.

The opposition felt society had a collective right to decide, as any person’s life depended on the people around them, be it their family or friends. They further said if all terminally ill patients were allowed to die then medical research could go to waste, and that dying individuals were in a state of depression and should rather be helped than be allowed to end their lives.

In the end, King Edward Medical College was declared the winner of BioEthika 2016.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2016

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