2a. Should parents be able to use genetic assessment to identify the sex of a growing embryo and alter that sex to fit their desires?
Typically, the sex of a growing embryo can be identified through the prenatal genetic diagnosis; however, an ethical question pops in on whether it is ethical for a fetus to be aborted or an embryo to be discarded because of sex. Sex selection is inherently ethically objectionable. This is because it makes sex the primary reason of valuing human beings. This should not be the case rather it should be completely irrelevant. Sex identification and alteration accrues negative consequences. First, it supports the socially made assumptions concerning the relative value of male and female. Males are normally considered superior to females. By supporting sex selection the chances of increasing females as the targets of unfair discrimination, infanticide, and damaging stereotypes. Sometimes a proponent for sex selection may argue that it helps in family balancing, however, as a good parent one ought not to favor, prefer or give more love to a child of one sex as compared to the other. Parents should have no more desire for one sex over the other.
2b. Should be genetic assessment, and alteration be available to individuals to lessen the chances for physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, or terminal/debilitating illness (cancer, Alzheimer's, Diabetes, etc.)?
Genetic assessment, as well as genetic alteration, should not be available to individuals; this is because doing this will result in discrimination against the disabled. Disability activists criticize the assumption that the rate of life enjoyment for the disabled is significantly less than that for the nondisabled persons. Most people have a presumption that raising a child who is disabled is something undesirable and that aborting or discarding the embryo significantly saves the mother from the heavy burdens of upbringing the physically challenged children (Steinbock, 2000). This is, however, not true as it is an inaccurate assumption about persons with disability. There are different reasons to fathom this. First, the medical team seems to exaggerate over the burden associated with taking care of a physically challenged person and underestimating the potentials or the functional abilities of the disabled persons. Secondly, the medical language used by the medics reinforces the negativity linked with a disability, for instance, using terms such as defective embryo or deformity. Thirdly, practicing genetic diagnosis (PGD) sends a message to the general public which in turn negatively affects the disabled thus increasing the prejudice and oppression that they suffer daily (Steinbock, 2000). Disability activists feel that genetic diagnosis leads to discrimination against the disabled. One major aim of the genetic diagnosis is to reduce the incidence of disability and disease. Persons with disability argue that clinicians exaggerate the burdens and problems of living as a person with a disability or living with the disabled. They feel that this is doing a moral disservice to the persons that they are required to be providing help to. Discrimination against people suffering from disabilities is morally repugnant just similar to discrimination based on religion, race or sex. It is therefore morally ethical for clinicians to take into consideration the negative impacts accrued from the provision of this service.
2c. Given the already high cost of medicine and diagnostic testing, do you see that the use of genetic assessment and alteration (if ever released and marketed) leading to a greater divide between socio-economic classes? Is it fair that those who have the financial resources could "pay" to be healed or to heal (in the case of embryo genetic assessment and alteration) genetically influenced illnesses and the poor citizens are left to deal with "the hand that was dealt them"?
It is not fair for the use of genetic assessment and alteration. Despite parents being able to use genetic assessment to identify the sex of their growing embryo and even alter the sex to suit their desires, there are numerous ethical issues accrued by prenatal genetic diagnosis thus I do not advocate for the prenatal genetic diagnosis. First and foremost the service is quite very expensive which cannot even be covered by private insurance. Thus not everyone can be able to afford the service. This raises a question of social equity and social justice including the aspect of whether insurance coverage of such a service is morally responsible considering social health resources are greatly limited. Conversely, there are other parents capable of affording these services. However, an ethical issue sets in about the means the medical practitioners use to attract parents as well as the information these medics give the patients concerning the benefits and risks of the exercise.
2d. If genetic assessment and alteration ever become available to individuals, should insurance companies be allowed to use genetic information to decide if they are going to cover individuals and to what amount (for examples percentage of coverage or amount of patient out of pocket limits)?
The process should not be covered by insurance companies for different reasons. The process is expensive and not even private insurance companies can effectively insure these services thus the service will only be available to the few wealthy persons. This in return will create a lot of rift and discrimination which will be unjust and inequity to persons who cannot afford to get insured. Furthermore, marketing or supporting this practice by insuring the service will encourage acts of abortion and embryo discarding, which is ethically wrong thus genetic practice and alteration should not be insured by insurance companies.
2e. An article on genetics and medicine
The article I selected was the essentials of medical genetics for health professionals by Laura M. Gunder and Scott Martin. The article primary looks into basic genetics, diagnostic techniques in medical genetics, development and teratogenesis, neurodegenerative diseases, hemophilia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, colorectal cancer and hereditary breast and Ovarian cancer syndrome (Gunder & Martin, 2011).
Gunder, L., & Martin, S. A. (2011). Essentials of medical genetics for health professionals. Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Steinbock B. Disability, prenatal testing, and selective abortion. In Parens E, Asch A (eds): Prenatal Testing and Disability Rights 2000; Washington DC, Georgetown Univ. Press: 108-123.
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