In recent years, genetic testing has become a popular topic in the media. Usually involving cheek swabs, blood samples, or amniotic fluid samples, the procedure is relatively simple and can help diagnose genetic disorders, determine ideal medication types, or simply determine the patient’s heritage. It has saved many lives from cancer and other afflictions, but to say that genetic testing is always the correct choice is false. There are many issues with the tests, considering that they are new to the medical world. Genetic testing is mostly harmful because of privacy concerns, how underdeveloped it is, and the risk of it pushing a mother to abort her child.
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.
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.
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.
The technologies available to aid in diagnosing genetic diseases and disorders have developed extraordinarily over the years. As a result, one topic up for discussion is how the technology should be used in the realm of diagnosing children before birth, mainly, using it to selectively screen embryos for genetic diseases. Leon Kass is one author who opposes genetic testing. He provides two main reasons why he feels it is morally wrong to use genetic screening on unborn children.
Genetic testing is revolutionary it has the capability to help the world advance and grow. The United States have the ability to use technology and develop technology that could change our world. Through genetic experimentation diseases could cease to plague our citizens, the world could have a new and exciting medical renaissance, and the treatments to diseases would be enduring. Every disease from cancer to arthritis to cystic fibrosis to tay sachs can all be cured through genetics. Instead of having to live with a disease like the sisters, Cate and Laura, did. The US can change the world and lives one treatment at a time. Which is why the United States should openly accept genetic medicine.
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.
Genetic testing involves examining an individual’s DNA and identifying abnormalities within the chemical makeup of specific structures. It, essentially, maps the person’s genome and can be interpreted to predict future issues. By analyzing the chromosome, genes, and even certain proteins, physicians and researchers can find changes that lead to inheritable disorders. These changes can lead to possible diagnosis or cure for the disorder in question. In most cases, genetic testing is used to determine the probability that an individual will develop a certain disorder. It is not used to specifically diagnose a disorder, as there are no techniques that are 100% accurate. Genetic testing techniques do give good evidence to confirm a physician’s findings, but it is not the first act a physician takes to diagnose a disorder. It can narrow a search or rule out a specific disorder very confidently, but making a diagnosis based solely on genetic testing is not an action that a qualified medical professional would consider.
Hodge A., 2004, “Ethical Issues Concerning Genetic Testing and Screening in Public Health” in American Journal of Medical Genetics, 66-70.
Testing can reveal useful information like the way some scientists say that Lincoln had a condition called Marfan syndrome. Some people use genetic testing to prove relation because Illinois residents were surprised to find out that some were related to Robert E. Lee. Biohistory is not just for proving something