Bioscience-bioethics and life factors affecting reproduction with special reference to the Indigenous Australian population

Irina Pollard*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The demand for equality of recognition or respect is the dominant passion of modernity. The 20th century experienced a giant leap in technological inventiveness and ruthless use of technological power. In the 21st century, human welfare and environmental wellbeing demand fundamental political appraisal. We have the means, if we choose, to eradicate poverty and to responsibly protect the global environment. However, economic, political and cultural systems act to differentially allocate the benefits and risks for growth between socioeconomic groups. For example, it is a matter of pride that the neonatal mortality rate in affluent societies has dropped substantially since the late 1970s. However, the level of infant mortality (three times the national average) and low birthweight (13%) among the Indigenous Australian population is the highest in the country. With hindsight we now know that is the inevitable legacy of Australia's colonial history. Chronic physical and psychological stress is recognized as an important etiological factor in many lifestyle diseases of the cardiovascular, immune and reproductive systems. Diseases of adaptation are further advanced by non-adaptive lifestyle choices, depression, alcoholism and other drug dependencies. This review describes the principles of bioscience ethics and targets equity issues as they affect human reproduction across generations with particular reference to the Indigenous population of Australia. The review also considers ways we may advance global and cultural maturity from the Indigenous Australian perspective and proposes an ecologically based model of preventative care. If we are to embrace fundamental social change and protect future children without threatening parents' basic freedoms, then new beliefs and priorities - based on a compassionate understanding of biological systems - must evolve from the general public. Belief in human rights arising from a sense of human dignity is a collective outcome originating from individual commitment. The golden rule; that is, Nature's principle of reciprocity, is fundamental in bridging the gap between knowledge and effective action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-402
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2005

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