How Will Genetic Engineering Impact Our Lives?

How Will Genetic Engineering Impact Our Lives?

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How will our lives change in the future? Are we as a society going to live longer because we have better medical treatments? The answer is most likely, yes, but will our genetic manipulation/sequencing take us to a new level. Instead of living to one hundred, will we be able to live to two hundred? More importantly, is this ethically correct to create a “fountain of youth” through genetic correction? An article I read recently helped me to draw some understanding.

Thus far, researchers have had minimal success in using gene therapy to correct most genetic conditions and no researcher has used gene therapy to correct genetic impairments in a fetus (Parens). Although it is impossible to correct genetic flaws, we have discovered how to test for over 400 conditions, from those viewed as severe, such as Tay Sachs, to those that many might describe as relatively minor, such as polydactyly (a trait involving an extra little finger) (Parens).

As it gets easier to test for these genetic disorders, so does the perception within both the medical and broader communities that prenatal testing is a logical extension of good prenatal care. On the other hand, as long as in-utero interventions remain relatively rare, and as long as the number or people seeking prenatal genetic information to prepare for the birth of a child with a disability remains small, prospective parents will use positive prenatal test results primarily as the basis of a decision to abort fetuses that carry mutations associated with disease or disability (Parens). “…There is a sense in which prenatal testing is simply a logical extension of the idea of good prenatal care” (Parens).

Whether it is a logical extension or not, using prenatal tests to prevent the birth of babies with disabilities seems to be a good decision to many people (Parens). Even if the testing will not help bring a healthy baby to term this time, it gives prospective parents a chance to try and conceive again (Parens). “To others, however, prenatal testing looks rather different. If one thinks to appreciate why people identified with the disability rights movement might regard such testing as dangerous. For the members of this movement, including people with and without disabilities and both issue-focused and disability-focused groups, living with disabling traits need not be detrimental either to an individual's prospects of leading a worthwhile life, or to the families in which they grow up, or to society at large” (Parens).

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How Will Genetic Engineering Impact Our Lives? Essay

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So, is the genetic correction of your child ethically correct? Another article I read gave me more information and insight on the topic, but in a different manner. Not only will we have the possibility to live to excess age, but will our parents be able to decide what sex we are?

“Although sex selection might ameliorate the situation of some individuals, it lowers the status of women in general and only perpetuates the situation that gave rise to it.... If we believe that sexual equality is necessary for a just society, then we should oppose sex selection” (Asch). Prenatal tests designed to test the condition of the fetus and to carry a mother through pregnancy through good health, but recent testing has come such that it not only includes the health of the mother, but it includes the health of the child as well (Asch). “If public health frowns on efforts to select for or against girls or boys and would oppose future efforts to select for or against those who would have a particular sexual orientation, but promotes people's efforts to avoid having children who would have disabilities, it is because medicine and public health view disability as extremely different from and worse than these other forms of human variation” (Asch).

Now again we must ask ourselves, if we can choose the sex of our child, will we?
You cannot argue that some people would, for instance many families would like to have a boy so that the family name could be carried on. There are also many families that would have girls as well. So to me, choosing the sex of your child will have no effect on the average population of girls, and average population of boys (at least here in America). All in all, there is no way to predict whether prenatal testing (of disease or sex) will spawn into a common practice or if it will be morally and ethically incorrect. Only time will tell.
 
Work Cited:

Asch, Adrienne. “Prenatal diagnosis and selective abortion: a challenge to practice and policy.” American Journal of Public Health v. 89 no11 Nov. 1999: 1649-1657
 
Parens, Erik., Adrienne Asch. “The disability rights critique of prenatal genetic testing: reflections and recommendations.” The Hastings Center Report v. 29 no5 Sept./Oct. 1999: S1-S22
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