Bioethical Conflicts Between Muslim Patients and German Physicians and the Principles of Biomedical Ethics
Medicine and Law: World Association for Medical Law 2002; 21(2): 243-256
In the age of globalisation, more and more people who are members of different religions and cultures live in the same society. This situation tends to create many conflicts in different areas of life and not least in the health care system, a fact which raises a number of bioethical issues. The cultural and religious differences between patient and physician can be a cause of bioethical conflicts and therefore represent a challenge for biomedical ethics. The confrontation between Turkish Muslin patients and the German health care system is a convenient example of this situation. The Muslim Turks came to Germany 40 years ago as industrial workers. Their value system had been shaped by traditional and Islamic parameters in Turkey. With this value system, they now found themselves in the German modern health care system. In many fields of modern medicine there are areas of potential conflict of values, where a Muslin patient will argue differently from a secular or Christian person. In an ethical conflict between two individuals who are members of different cultures, it is necessary to make sure that the ethical concept which is to be used for resolving the problem is relevant. In this particular case, both the Islamic legal responses (fatwa) and the classical theories of biomedical ethics are often insufficient. This paper tries to give a brief outline of these bioethical conflicts and discuss these conflicts with regard to the principle of respect for autonomy in the concept of "principilism," as introduced by T.L. Beauchamp and J.F. Childress. The central question is whether this bioethical concept is able to analyse and to help solve the kinds of ethical conflicts which involve transcultural dimensions. This question is discussed with some consideration of the ongoing debate about universalism versus relativism in biomedical ethics.
Autonomy; Beneficence; Bioethical Issues; Communication; Competence; Consent; Decision Making; Ethical Relativism; Ethics; Family Members; Health; Health Care; Informed Consent; Islamic Ethics; Life; Medicine; Minority Groups; Muslims; Paternalism; Patient Care; Patients; Physician Patient Relationship; Physicians; Principle-Based Ethics; Religion; Third Party Consent; Values; Philosophical Ethics; Religious Ethics; Patient Relationships; Cultural Pluralism;
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