Critical Thinking Exercise - Genetic Screening:
As we move closer to the day when genetic screening and engineering become commonplace, many scientists are raising concerns about the social, ethical, and political implications of this genetic revolution. Who should decide what constitutes a genetic "defect"? Should genetic screening be required? Who would decide who must be screened?
Another worry concerns safeguarding the privacy of the individual. In nations that do not have universal health insurance, critics fear that insurance companies might require genetic screening before writing a policy, using this information either to deny coverage or to charge exorbitant premiums to those individuals who carry defective genes that might lead to chronic illness.
Another fear is that some may want to use genetic screening and gene therapy to "improve" individuals with traits that are not lethal, but simply less desirable. Should a parent, for ex, be permitted to use genetic engineering to make a short child taller or a hyperactive child quieter?
To help bring your own thoughts on these controversial issues into sharper focus, answer the following problems.
1. Would you want to know that you carried a gene for a disease that can't be treated? How would you feel about knowing you carried a gene that might cause a disease to develop years later?
2. Should parents know if an unborn child might develop an incurable disease? What impact would such knowledge have on each domain of the child's health?
3. Should genetic screening be required of every couple? For some couples? Who should decide who must be screened?
4. What are some of the negative effects of genetic technology on the individual? On the family? On society?