Genetic testing has become a highly controversial issue among both the general population and the scientific community. It is a process that exposes a person’s entire genome sequence, allowing it to be read and evaluated to identify potential risks for genetic diseases or diseases that could be passed onto offspring (Holt Productions, 2012). With thousands of genetic tests already being used, and more being established, it seems logical to put this growing technology to use. Some agree that it is a person’s right to know and understand his or her genetic makeup. However, others argue that, despite the benefits of genetic testing, caution should be used to carefully inspect the risks associated with this new technology.
Genetic testing has been a very controversial topic. While some people believe that genetic testing is completely right in any situation, others believe that it is completely wrong in any situation. However, both sides prove valid points of why genetic testing is both right and wrong. Genetic testing can be very good when it is being used for helpful reasons. However, genetic testing can also be very bad when it is used for the wrong reasons. Genetic testing is okay to do as long as it is being done for the right reasons and following good moral guidelines.
The Pros of Prenatal Genetic Testing
Many medical advances are being made today in the area of genetics. One of the most talked about is prenatal genetic testing. The purpose of prenatal genetic testing is to obtain information on a baby's health before they are born. This new technology will definitely improve the quality of human life. Diseases will be diminished and through new advances some diseases might even be eliminated.
Genetic testing, also known as screening, is a rapidly advancing new scientific field that can potentially revolutionize not only the world of medicine, but many aspects of our lives. Genetic screening is the sequencing of human DNA in order to discover genetic differences, anomalies, or mutations that may prove pathological. As genetic screening becomes more advanced and easily accessible, it presents society with difficult questions that must be asked about the boundaries of science and to what degree we are allowed to tamper with the human genome. To better understand the potential impact of genetic screening on our society, we must examine the potential benefits in comparison to the possible negative impact it may cause. With this knowledge in hand, we can examine what the future holds for this field of study and the best possible direction to take.
Approximately 120,000 babies are born each year with a genetic disease or major genetic birth defect ("Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects"). It is 2014 and our generation still has thousands of babies with genetic diseases born each year and that isn’t right. These diseases range from phenylketonuria, a genetic disorder that causes mental retardation if left untreated, to congenital heart disease which has a 51 percent mortality rate in infants with the condition ("Mortality Associated...”). One of the solutions that scientists are working on to this problem is preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Barlow-Stewart says, “preimplantation genetic diagnosis works through in-vitro fertilization, which involves removing egg cells from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them with sperm cells outside the body.” To complete the test, a small number of cells are taken from these embryos and tested for certain genetic changes. Only embryos without these changes are implanted in the uterus to initiate a pregnancy ("What are the types of genetic tests?”). The technology to perform preimplantation genetic diagnosis has been worked on for years, but is finally becoming a reality. Many people think that this technique is unethical because you are playing the hand of God, and killing humans. Preimplantation genetic diagnosis and prenatal engineering are viable options for the future of preventing genetic diseases in embryos because they are safe, ethical, and beneficial to advancing society.
The availability of methods that determine the genetic predisposition of a fetus gives rise to a whole array of questions and issues that must be confronted as we develop policies to deal with genetic testing. In this essay, I will present current and future methods for prenatal diagnosis, ethical concerns and related problems dealing with this new technology, my personal opinion on the issue, and finally, future goals in the science of genetics.
Given advancements in technology and medicine, genetic screening and testing is becoming more commonplace in our society. The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) defines genetic screening as “a search in a population for persons possessing certain genotypes that (1) are already associated with disease or predispose to disease, (2) may lead to disease in their descendants, or (3) produce other variations not known to be associated with disease” (NHGRI, 2005). The term genetic testing is similar, but differs in that it only targets those individuals believed to be at high risk for a genetic disease. For example, testing an asymptomatic person in a family with relatives affected with the condition would constitute genetic testing (NHGRI, 2005). For the purpose of this paper, the two terms will be used interchangeably. Given the growing number of genetic tests available for identifying genetic diseases, it is important to examine the ethical implications of genetic screening as well as the arguments for and against this practice.
In chapter four of her book Genetic Dilemmas, Dena Davis asserts that it is unethical for parents to subject their children to genetic testing for the markers of adult-onset genetic diseases because it places an unfair constraint on a child’s right to an open future. It both removes the child’s ability to choose whether to be tested as an adult and has the potential to negatively alter the overall trajectory of their lives. While the current consensus amongst medical professionals is that such testing should be prohibited (Davis, _____), many concerned parents correctly point out that discouraging such testing creates a conflict of interests between the “beneficence model of patient care and the rights of parents to their own autonomy” (Davis, 75). The availability of commercial online and mail-order genetic testing kits further exacerbates this dilemma by enabling these dissenting parents to obtain test results for their children. Davis ultimately makes a convincing argument that “parental requests for genetic information about their children, when they have no immediate relevance to medical intervention or disease prevention, should generally be resisted” (Davis, 87). This paper seeks to demonstrate that in the case of testing for incurable, late onset genetic diseases, protecting the rights and interests of the child should take precedence over parental autonomy, and that there is a marked need for tighter regulation of commercial genetic testing in order to protect these rights.
Hereditary genes influence and reflect a child’s entire course of life. These ideologies have created the concept of designer babies where parents use pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and a baby is genetically engineered in vitro for specially selected traits.”3 Although these in vitro procedures are ideally for mothers who cannot conceive naturally, practices are starting to shift where a child’s “DNA will be edited to remove genes associated with diseases and other disfavored traits.”5 The concept of gene selection is a branch off of the ideologies of Eugenics and “there is a significant risk that there will be an increased sentiment for instituting eugenic measures in the United States.”1 Certain genes are considered more beneficial and advantageous than others and members of society who do not possess these genes are considered to be of a lower status and not desired in society. Certain Naturally occurring genes are determined to be bad and less valued by society. As a result, society weeds out people who possess these genes and are automatically ostracized and lowered on the social ladder. However, at times if a child will face a life threatening or life stopping disease it may be beneficial for the child to know the genetic makeup and make a choice based off of that. Although eugenics is not present itself certain topics have branched off the concept and embedded
This paper will start providing a definition and a brief history of eugenics and will proceed with the major concerns arose from the ideology of biological determinism related to the Human Genome Project. What will be argued is that, because of the past history of eugenic movements and the achievement of the new genomic research, there are analogies between the implication of genomics and eugenics together with an overlap of social, legal and ethics implications. The most representative area to be taken into consideration will be family genetics.