Bioethics Paper: Prenatal Genetic Screening

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Iris Wang
Period 6
Honors Biology
Hartzog
January 26, 2013

Biotechnology Ethics- Prenatal Genetic Screening
Prenatal Genetic Testing has become one of the most prominent and influential advances in clinical genetics today. Every year, hundreds of couples request screening services, hence, subjecting themselves to the results of the diagnosis. For some, the information may be a sigh of relief, and for others a whisper of warning. The concept of Prenatal Genetic Screening has only recently surfaced for controversy. In consequence to the completion of the Human Genome Project (2003), the option for Prenatal Genetic Screening can now be performed for an affordable 1,000 dollars. Utilizing state of the art multiplex technologies such as gene chips and micro beads, we can already track hundreds of thousands of unique SNPs or Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms to screen our genome at over half a million pinpoints that are believed to be associated with particular traits, diseases, susceptibilities, and conditions. In addition to screening for diseases, this technology threatens to tamper with our perception of individuality. Raising the question of constitutionality, and whether it should be permitted to terminate a pregnancy based for reasons of sex, hair color, or eye color [Designer Babies]. If approved by the FDA, this option is predicted to prompt a dramatic increase in pregnancy terminations and lead to a host of practical and legal questions. Some believe that the concept is simple. Utilizing potential knowledge of the impending future, we are given the chance to think and to prepare. We are given the chance to absorb the entirety of the situation and consult a genetics counselor. With prior knowledge we could save people years of suffering and financial trouble. Others question the effectiveness and benefits of genetic screening and wonder if the process would prompt undue emotional distress, distress for the safety of the fetus and also the issue of...
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