Sanctity of the human genome as foundation of life

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Marietjie Botes


In times before ethics and laws were formalised, it was commonly held that human life is sacred since it is divinely ordained and because of this divine intervention human life must be protected by implication due to it being holy. As a result, people often assume that this meant that human life is completely inviolable. This view of life is more prominent in western religious philosophies and had been raised in many legal debates about human life such as abortion and euthanasia. To ensure survival and peaceful coexistence the uniqueness of human life was emphasized so that people would respect the worth of human life. This respect entailed values such as equality and autonomy and incorporated both reciprocal rights and obligations to one another. History, in the form of wars and pandemics, has proven that when legal systems ignore these basic human rights, it will lead to tyranny and anarchy. The atrocities committed during the Second World War prompted nation states to collect the values of human life into a single concept termed ‘human dignity’. This term was then adopted as a new form of legal humanism deriving its basis from the concept of sanctity of human life. The recognition of this concept enables an entire set of human rights and obligations to find practical application on a universal basis setting apart from the diverse religious and other philosophical views on human life.

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BOTES, Marietjie. Sanctity of the human genome as foundation of life. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 8, n. 9, sep. 2020. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 27 oct. 2020. doi:


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