Modern science is nothing short of amazing. We are able to do things that go beyond the realm of common imagination. Every day, science progresses and new innovation techniques are found to combat medical issues. But where do we draw the line? Issues such as genetic testing are an extremely fragile topic. While much good can come from genetic testing, there is a question of ethics.
Diseases such as cystic fibrosis are occurring less and less, but not because we have found a cure. The disease is declining due to the decision to abort a fetus that has been diagnosed with the disease. Genetic testing is now commonly implemented in prenatal screening (Marchione, 2010). Clearly the decision to abort ones baby is a personal issue, but if the testing had not been done in the first place, then the baby could have had a chance to be born.
In order to test for disease in a fetus, the doctor extracts cells from the womb via amniocentesis or chorionic villi sampling. The doctor can determine, quite accurately, whether or not the baby has Down syndrome, sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs disease, or cystic fibrosis. Even after birth, a baby can be administered a blood test called phenylketonuria, that can predict mental retardation (Understanding Genetics, 2004).
Unborn children are not the only focus of genetic testing. It is becoming a trend for adults to undergo genetic testing in order to determine if they carry genes associated with Huntington’s disease and various other diseases. It is also common for genetic testing to be used to match organ donors and recipients, to establish paternity or maternity, and in forensics, for identifying evidence from crime scenes (Understanding Genetics, 2004).
Obviously, genetic testing has its pros and cons. Genetic testing can be extremely helpful in the solving of crimes, scientific research, and paternity tests just to name a few. But the question of ethics still remains for the testing of disease. Is it right to decide if a baby should or should not be born because of disease? Is it right to know if you will eventually have Parkinson’s disease? This can only be answered by the individual and their morals. Right now, certain genetic testing is safe from sanctions. It remains to be unseen if the future will change that.
Understanding Genetics (2004). Genetic testing. Retrieved May 19, 2010, from http://www.thetech.org/genetics/art05_testing.php
Marchione, M. (2010, February 17). Genetic disease testing leads some adults not to have kids. Associated Press. Retrieved May 19, 2010, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2010-02-17-genetic-testing_N.htm