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Mathieu, Richard (2016): Jewish ethics and xenotransplantation. In: Xenotransplantation, Vol. 23, No. 4: pp. 258-268
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Background: Although exclusively secular approaches to xenotransplantation are methodologically necessary to establish a fundamental verdict on its theoretical ethical acceptability, it is nevertheless pragmatically appropriate to take into account specifically religious positions, as religion is a factor relevant to societal acceptability. Apart from the aspect of societal acceptability, Jewish bioethics, like other religiously embedded ethics, may enrich the broader ethical discourse on xenotransplantation, as some of its principlespikuach nefesh being the most prominent oneare plausible even in the framework of secular ethics. Methods: This paper first explores concepts of normativity in Jewish ethics before identifying specific ethical issues in Jewish bioethics and possible resolutions offered within the framework of Jewish ethics, and then finally examine the implications for the broader debate on xenotransplantation. ResultsReligions in general and Judaism in specific cannot and should not be systematically excluded from ethical debates, not only because they may provide helpful input, but also because religion, religiousness and the affiliation to a religion can be crucial factors regarding the societal acceptability of specific medical technologies and procedures as they may be important aspects of an individual's identity. The principles of Jewish bioethics may be compelling to those who do not necessarily share the specifically religious prerequisites on which Jewish ethics is established. Among these rather cogent concepts is the status of natural law and naturalness, which is far more open to medical technologies and procedures deemed as unnatural and thus morally wrong by other religious parties in public discourse. Conclusions: Jewish ethics has strong tendencies toward supporting xenotransplantation given a certain criteria is met. No categorical bans on xenotransplantation can be established on the grounds of Halacha.