The Hellenic National Bioethics Commission dealt with the issue of “Human enhancement”. The term includes the use of medical interventions in healthy subjects, in order to obtain desirable physical, mental and cognitive characteristics. The Commission published its first Opinion on the enhancement of physical characteristics, which includes plastic surgery and improvement of physical abilities.
In principle, the Commission considers that a person’s autonomy justifies the freedom of forming external features. The Commission notes that the physician a) has an increased responsibility to fully inform the person concerned about the anticipated outcome and, particularly, the possible adverse effects on his/her health and b) must particularly examine the possibility of psychological or psychiatric disorders in the person concerned and refer the person for a psychological or psychiatric assessment. Finally, the Commission notes the lack of a specific code of conduct for plastic surgery and recommends the preparation of such a code.
Enhancement of physical abilities
The Commission considers that, in the context of a person’s right to develop his/her own personality, improving physical abilities is, in principle, a legitimate choice. However, this choice is subject to restrictions, which are related both to the person him/herself and third parties.
Protecting a person’s health from possibly damaging agents is imperative. According to the Commission, it is important that the competent authorities implement strict control procedures over the products used for physical enhancement, and it is particularly significant to fully and accurately inform the consumers about the possible side effects of the agents that do not require a prescription. Regarding agents that are administrated after encouragement (by sports medicine physicians, trainers etc.), the relevant responsibility –moral but also legal- belongs primarily to the person recommending the use.
In the case of enhancing abilities through doping in order to participate in athletic events, the Commission notes the need to strengthen the role of the Hellenic National Anti-Doping Agency. Additionally, the Commission considers that reinforcing the athletes’ medical assistance will act as a deterrent to the use of doping, and emphasizes that it is important to responsibly publish the results of doping control tests to avoid the risk of stigmatizing sports.