Ethical Issues Surrounding Genetic Screening and Genetic Engineering
In today’s modern age science is moving at a rapid pace; one of those scientific fields that has taken the largest leaps is that of genetics. When genetics first comes to mind, many of us think of it as a type of science fiction, or a mystical dream. Yet genetics is here, it is real, and has numerous ethical implications.
One of the particular areas of interest is prenatal genetics. In this field, many new and outstanding innovations have been made. A mother and father can now check for a large array of disorders that could occur in their child; sexual preference has now been shifted from the hands of a higher being to that of someone with a Ph.D.; and in the near future, a couple will possibly be able to choose the physical features of their child, such as hair color, eye color, etc. Scientifically speaking, all of these new options that parents have is amazing. Not only can they have a healthy baby, but one that is going to be stronger, and better looking. Yet, ethically speaking, many people would dislike the “playing” of God. And when it becomes possible to create a perfect child, what will prevent us in society from doing so? The field of genetics in prenatal situations has become very advanced over the past few years, yet many of these advancements have given arise to unethical applications.
In 1990, the first great stride of genetics took place. This was called the Human Genome Project, a large-scale operation that was designed to understand the human genome (genetic structure). Since its commencement, there have been many leaps and bounds that have taken place. For certain genetic issues that we once knew nothing about, we now have a large bank of information that we can withdraw from. One of these issues that is that of prenatal genetics. In this brave new field, there have been many steps and strides taken of which we could have never imagined. For instance, before a mother and father decided to carry out the process of having offspring, they can visit a genetic clinic to figure out if their child is likely to have certain illnesses. A list of such illnesses are: Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, dwarfism, breast cancer (susceptibility to), fragile X syndrome, Huntington’s Disease, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and various types of nervous system degeneration (Golden 51). These are only a few of the nearly 40 types of disorders that can be determined by genetic testing. It may be rather nice to know that a child does not have a genetic disease, but what does a couple do if the results of a genetic test are returned with negative results? Also, if the information from the test is ambiguous the couple might decide not to carry out the pregnancy due to risk. In a 1999 article written by Frederic Golden, he questions if the child should be brought into the world “…in hopes that a cruel disease can be managed or cured…” or if the fetus should be...