Prenatal Screening And Genetic Manipulation: Are We "Playing God"?

1655 words - 7 pages

There are many questions surrounding the topics of prenatal screening and genetic manipulation. Many of the processes have not even been explored enough to determine the extent of what is possible. Prenatal screening is a method used to determine certain things about a fetus. These things could range from the discovery of a Down's Syndrome child to determining the child's hair color. Genetic manipulation is the process by which potential disorders could be genetically fixed before the fetus is born. Some say that to meddle with human genes is against all rules of nature, while others think it is a scientific breakthrough that could do as much as to improve the human race. In the near future, as more information is discovered and new technology makes these things possible and even accessible to the public, people will have to choose to either support genetic manipulation or not to. I believe that genetic manipulation could be beneficial if used ethically and conservatively.Procedures used for prenatal screening vary. The most popular method is called amniocentesis. During this procedure, a long needle is inserted into a woman's uterus through the abdomen. Some of the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus is then drawn off and analyzed. The results can show abnormalities or chemical irregularities which can lead to the discovery of a genetic disorder. The parents can then decide whether or not to abort the fetus (Byczynski 51). Since this procedure is done when the woman is about four months pregnant, is raises questions about how late in the pregnancy an abortion should be done. If the fetus is aborted too late, it could live through it and that creates a whole new ethical issue. Another method of screening involves fertilizing several eggs in a petri dish, then testing each embryo for disorders. The healthiest embryo is inserted back into the mother's uterus and the rest are thrown out. This throwing out of embryos is questionable when seen as the throwing out of children. This method could also be easily abused. If, in the future, it were possible to screen for physical traits or intelligence, parents could just choose the smartest, most attractive child to be their own (Swisher, 73-74).Abortion itself has long been a debated topic, but when you add in the factor of prenatal screening, the story changes a little bit. If a genetic disorder is found during screening, the parents must choose whether to keep or abort the child. They must consider if the child will be in pain, if it will have a functional life, if it can be independent of others, etc. Due to recent advancements in screening techniques, increased numbers of "inflicted children…are preemptively terminated rather than medically treated… With fewer afflicted children being born, a reduction in reported defects is by no means a medical advance" (Interim Staff). It seems that parents just get rid of the problem before it becomes one. That brings up another question: Who should...

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