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Ethical issues arise as scientists peek into baby genes

by on April 3, 2014

By Alyxandra Rivard

I found this article very interesting because this is a very valid demonstration of how the advancement of technology, especially in the scientific field, influences ethics. Science now allows parents to map their children’s genetic code through blood samples. This enables parents to find out, prior to the child’s birth, about any health problems or defects the newborn may be burdened with. This creates for many potential ethical dilemmas.

These dilemmas originate from the amount of information parents should be permitted to know. For example, should parents only be informed on immediate life threatening concerns or should they also be given a warning to possible future health problems?

I think abortion or even adoptions are both outlets that make this new parental, over informed procedure ethically questionable. If you knew your child was going to be autistic months before your due date would the chance of abortion increase? I, personally, do think that if people were well informed of their children’s health concerns it would heavily influence their decision on having the child. Due to the health and monetary consequences of a newborn, especially one that is unhealthy, I think that the condition of the child would heavily influence a struggling parent’s decision on whether or not to keep their child.

Do you find these ethical dilemmas to be as serious as I do? Or do you find it fair and their right for parents to know the health status on their child prior to its birth?


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  1. I think there lies an ethical difference between determining whether a child have a genentic disease and determining genetic character traits.
    Testing for tay sachs disease, downs syndrome, and cystic fibrosis are important to forewarn parents about potential issues. I believe parents have the right to know and prepare for an ill child. I take offense to the article suggesting that this information will lead to abortion. Children inflicted with these diseases can bring happiness to others and lead productive lives.
    However, I feel differently about testing for character traits. Children without the “smart” gene might have more passion and work harder than those in possession of the “smart’ gene; therefore being more successful. And, those with an athletic gene might be lazy and less athletically inclined than those who do not have it. Success is in the eyes of the beholder; often passion will overcome innate ability.
    I also believe the environment in which a person is raised contributes greatly to character. Let’s work on American homes to be nurturing, motivating, challenging environments to foster the development of successful children before messing with the unknowns in the gene pool.

  2. jkotoch permalink

    I see the ethical problem, but I’m not sure I see how this relates to ethics in journalism.

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