What does this mean for the bread-and-butter controversies in bioethics: Abortion? Euthanasia? Destructive embryonic stem cell research? Well, it's pretty clear from the above that certain types of arguments do not count: Reference to the infinite value of the human being based on claims about 'ensoulment' won't succeed as there ain't any empirical evidence that the human soul exists to begin with. Waving the Christian or Islamic magic wands (aka Bible or Koran) won't bring this soul into existence. Still, the important bit is perhaps, that humanist bioethics, so understood, leaves room for very significant disagreement on many subject matters that bioethicists are concerned about. However, humanist bioethics limits the types of arguments that can legitimately be deployed to those arguments that are not relying on higher God type entities and their authority.
Having attended and lectured during quite a few meetings of atheist and humanist groups, I have often encountered a clear misconception of what humanist ethics or humanist bioethics could possibly be. All too often there was the assumption that humanist ethics or bioethics would somehow free us from the most reactionary provisions of Christian or Islamic ideologies while offering motherhood and apple pie type solutions to ethical conflict or controversy. I suspect (!) that empirically that might well be true with regard to standard reactionary mainstream religions' provisions (prohibitions on homosexuality, voluntary euthanasia, etc). Peter Singer pointed out quite rightly in an early chapter of his book Practical Ethics that ethics does not give sexuality specific guidance. Sex as such does not give rise to special ethical issues. Ethics might admonish us not to hurt others while we engage in sexual intercourse, but the prohibition on harming others is not sex related, rather it is an ethical obligation not to harm others that also applies to sex. Secular approaches to ethics or bioethics would very likely free us from conservative religious infringements on personal freedom spaces. Humanists are more likely to ponder about the lives we live here and now as opposed to focusing on an afterlife that we don't think is awaiting us anyhow.