Genetic screening is the testing of variations in gene sequences in protein or DNA. Protein screening is easier, but DNA screening is more powerful. It is a 'physical screening for a protein or genetic abnormality that may allow detection of a disorder before there are physical signs of it, or even before a gene is expressed if it acts later in life.' (web). This is a technique that is used on nonhuman species such as plants and some animals and is not questioned. The real question is if we should use it on humans.
The procedure of genetic screening is the binding of a probe to a DNA molecule of the patient. Complementary DNA nucleotide sequences bind together, so the probe is single stranded DNA that binds to it's "mate" in the patient. Scientists try to use probes that are independent of family history, so there is no consent or samples needed from parents of the patient. The patients DNA is analyzed by Random Fragment Length Polymorphism, of RFLP. The DNA is cut by restriction endonucleases, separated and examined. The results are not always clear. Many diseases have mutations, so this makes screening even more difficult, and only the common mutations are screened for. There is also the problem of expressivity of the disease. It may be more or less severe in one patient than another because of age, progress speed, multiple gene activity, or ant number of environmental factors. Also, many diseases arise spontaneously and are not inherited from either parent and cannot be screened for.
There are many ethical concerns with genetic screening, just a few are social and physiological problems, the use by insurance companies, "ordering" a baby, selective abortions, more embryos made than implanted, and quality and reliability of services. These question may seem far fetched and not real concerns, but in the near future, any parent may be able to order a baby. This is not like the rich parents of today ordering babies that meet strict qualifications off the internet, this is genetically choosing the traits of an unborn child, and maybe disposing of embryos that are insufficient. Here also lies the problem that came with the abortion issue : when does life begin? Is it at the embryo stage, the third trimester of pregnancy, or at birth? Is disposing of embryonic tissue murder?
The social and physiological problems include the conscience of the parents about the results, the results themselves, and what they can do to the parents of unborn screened children. If all tests came back normal, it would alleviate worry by the parents and if there are problems that can be treated immediately, they can be taken care of. But some say let nature take its course. After a screening, there are many decisions to be made. These decisions used to be made after any pregnancy: keep, abort, or give the baby up for adoption. These decisions used to be made solely on the ability and want of the parents to take care of the child. Now there are a whole new set of...