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.
Every human carries about half a dozen defective genes that could become harmful in the future. With today’s technology, it is now easier to find these defective genes through genetic testing. Genetic testing is the analyses or screening of an individuals DNA sequence in order to analyze health risks, trace ancestry, and prevent passing on illnesses to offspring. Genetic testing can provide information about individuals’ genes throughout their lifetime but is a complex process that has many uses and benefits yet sparks controversial issues.
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.
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
Scientific and technological advances are the products of man's inherent desire to improve the society in which he lives. Such progress often accompanies an expansion of intellectual boundaries. As one acquires knowledge, one also encounters new opportunities to be explored. This is true in the area of human genome research. The implications of The Human Genome Project and other attempts to further understand the human genetic code clearly demonstrate the basic principles of social benefit versus social cost. The desired effect is obviously one in which the benefits significantly outweigh the costs. The actual impact of such technology, however, remains only an estimate until this scientific advancement becomes a reality. It is out of this inability to predict how new technology may transform society that controversy arises. For if one estimates the value of knowledge and progress to ultimately influence society in a negative manner, then, perhaps such advancement should not be attempted. The Human Genome Project and other studies involving genetic research invite debate on the most controversial and highly moral issues that characterize and define the nature of life.
Genetic testing is a type of medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins. The results of a genetic test can confirm or rule out a suspected genetic condition or help determine a person's chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. More than 1,000 genetic tests are currently in use, and more are being developed every day.
Several methods can be used for genetic testing.
Molecular genetic tests (or gene tests) study single genes or short lengths of DNA to identify variations or mutations that lead to a genetic disorder.
Ethics of Genetic Engineering
Richard Williams proposed that the issue of human freedom be re-conceptualized. Rejecting the traditional view of self-direction as the possibility of choosing among alternatives, Williams suggested that we ground our understanding of individual freedom in morality. In this view, human freedom is enhanced as one "lives truthfully. " Truthful living runs counter to self-deception and thereby opens the way for greater freedom, which is fundamentally concerned with being, or existing.
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.
Modern technologies are constantly advancing in a multitude of ways to the degree that scientists have gained enough knowledgeable about the human genome to be able to find specific genes during the embryonic stage of reproduction. Scientists have already begun to use this knowledge to allow parents the ability to select the sex of their child and screen for genetic diseases via preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) with in vitro fertilization (IVF). Sex-selection has already created world-wide discussion regarding the ethics of such a situation. However, scientists are now looking toward germline engineering which will essentially allow parents to select and alter genetic traits of their children before implantation of the embryo into the female body. John Alan Cohan’s article, “Ethics of Genetic Enhancement” and Marcy Darnovsky’s “The Case Against Designer Babies: The Politics of Genetic Enhancement” disagree in their investigations of the ethicality of germline engineering to potentially “design” our future children to be more capable in every aspect.
The biological goal of a human is to create successful offspring passing on the parental genes, allowing the race to survive. Most people do not think of wanting a child in these biological terms but think of it as a want to create a family. Pregnancy is quite an investment costing at a minimum of about $20,000 of doctor’s appointments, vitamins, clothes, and hospital bills (Herlihy 1). Just like any normal large investment of time and money people want to be assured the outcome will be positive. With pregnancy this assurance comes from prenatal testing and consultations from esteemed doctors. In recent years scientific advancements have allowed for parents to “choose” their children. From eye color to gender the possibilities are seemingly endless. With this genetic engineering of children there are people opposed to it and people in agreement with it.