Brenda Gaytan

Brenda Gaytan
Anthropology
October 15, 2014
Ethics Essay
Genetic Testing Ethics Essay
Introduction
What if we could stop all diseases? We may be able to do that someday and that
day seems to be getting closer, faster than we expected. With early testing we can prevent
or manage diseases like never before. The question posed is, at what cost? With genetic
testing starting at the embryonic level, we are able to weed out the embryos with bad
genetics and harvest the best one to create the healthiest babies. Some may say that you
are murdering unborn babies and even playing God. The debate is whether we should be
able to have genetic test done for ourselves without a doctor, whether adults should have
the choice to know whether they are likely to get a certain disease. and whether we
should test embryos, fetuses, and/or babies for diseases. We will explore both side of the
ethical dilemma that surrounds genetic testing and how it
affects us all.
Genetic testing has been around but in the past it was
very expensive and time consuming. The graphic to the left

Brenda Gaytan
shows the cost of genome sequencing cost through the years1. Since they first sequenced
the whole human genome in 20032, the price for sequencing the whole human genome
has gone down significantly. Many people have had their genome sequenced and many
more would want to have it done. Now people can have parts of their genome sequenced,
for as cheap as $99 from companies such as 23 and Me3.
I personally think that adults should have access to their genetic information and
if they have a question they can go to the doctor to get help if they needed. I don't think
they should be forced to go to the doctor to see the results. We are adults and if we want
this information, its our choice. I also think that we should be testing embryos if parents
are afraid that their hereditary diseases would be passed on to their offspring. We would
be helping out the future generation as well as the current one.
Viewpoint 1
Many people feel like genetic testing a great advance in science that should be
used to its fullest advantage and should be available to those who would want it. As
evident with the commercial success of many genome sequencing companies around the
world. On company that seems to garnish a lot of attention is 23 and me. It’s success has

1

"National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) - Homepage." National Human
Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). Web. 16 Oct. 2014.!

2

"Human Genome Project Completion: Frequently Asked Questions." Human Genome Project
Completion: Frequently Asked Questions. Genome.gov, 14 Apr. 2003. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.
3

"23andMe - Genetic Kit for Ancestry | DNA Service." 23andMe. 1 Jan. 2007. Web. 11 Oct.
2014.

Brenda Gaytan
landed it in the publics eye and is being backed by technology power house Google. The
company has been very successful. In fact, “as of March 10, 2014, 23 and Me has more
than 650,000 genotyped customers, even as it acknowledges that the recent FDA action
"has slowed up the number of people signing up4” according to Alex Khomenko. So it is
obvious that given the choice, many people would want testing that could help better
their situation and help avoid diseases that the are predisposed to by doing all they can to
avoid those they can. “A positive result can direct a person toward available prevention,
monitoring, and treatment options5.”
Another great thing about genetic testing is that couple who would not want to
reproduce because of a high likelihood that their offspring would have a horrible
hereditary disease are now able to have kids without having to worry if they baby will
live a painful life or die early because of the hereditary disease they could pass onto their
kids. They are able to have a healthy baby by having their embryos tested and having the
embryos with the undesired genetic disease weeded out until they have the best healthier
embryo implanted to have a healthy baby. The best people to deiced are the parents.
Patient autonomy is very important to this viewpoint.

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4

Khomenko, Alex. "Quora." How Many Paying Customers Does 23andMe Have? Http://
www.quora.com, 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 11 Oct. 2014.
5

"Genetic Testing." Genetics Home Reference. Http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov, 9 Oct. 2014. Web.!

Brenda Gaytan
Viewpoint 2
The other side of the argument is that you are killing babies, playing good and
that we are not smart enough to interpret any genetic test without a doctor doing it for us.
Some people, partially those of strong religious beliefs feel that by picking a single
embryo out of a group and not using the “defective” ones, you are killing babies. Another
argument is, where do you draw the line? Do you only weed out the embryos with a
deadly disease? Do you weed out those with asthma? Do you weed out the girls? Where
does it end? Soon all of the babies will be tall blonde blue-eyes boys, this is what Hitler
wanted. This argument is a slippery slope fallacy.
This viewpoint also assumes that if anyone gets a result from such sites as 23 and Me,
that they will not be able to able to handle the results because only doctors can read and assess
the results correctly. Also, “the accuracy of these tests is in question, and their results can be
misunderstood by the consumer. They also raise broader societal concerns—for example,
whether the results are admissible in court.6” If we are not careful, the information could end up
in the wrong hands and I can be used to cause harm. Insurance and employers could use the
information to discriminate. People might not be able to handle the information and it could ruin
their lives. “A longstanding concern about genetic testing is that people at increased risk for a

6

"Framing the Issue." Genetic Testing and Screening. Http://www.thehastingscenter.org, 1 Jan.
2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.!

Brenda Gaytan
serious condition could face discrimination, which prompted passage of the Genetic Information
Nondiscrimination Act in 2008.7”

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Conclusion
So in conclusion, it is important to here out both sides of the argument to make sure what
you are doing is ethical and anything that can me exploited be protected. It is relative to
everyone. Anyone that wants to reproduce should know if their baby will be healthy or if not,
how they can minimize the risk. I feel like if an adult wants to have a genetic test done, it
should be their right to. If they want to test some embryos, it should be their right to. If
saving someone’s life is as simple as a test and treatment, they should have access to that.

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"Framing the Issue." Genetic Testing and Screening. Http://www.thehastingscenter.org, 1 Jan.
2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.!

Brenda Gaytan

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Refrences

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"National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) - Homepage." National Human Genome
Research Institute (NHGRI). Web. 16 Oct. 2014.!

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"Human Genome Project Completion: Frequently Asked Questions." Human Genome Project
Completion: Frequently Asked Questions. Genome.gov, 14 Apr. 2003. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.!

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"23andMe - Genetic Kit for Ancestry | DNA Service." 23andMe. 1 Jan. 2007. Web. 11 Oct.
2014.!

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Khomenko, Alex. "Quora." How Many Paying Customers Does 23andMe Have? Http://
www.quora.com, 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 11 Oct. 2014.!

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"Genetic Testing." Genetics Home Reference. Http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov, 9 Oct. 2014. Web.!
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"Framing the Issue." Genetic Testing and Screening. Http://www.thehastingscenter.org, 1 Jan.
2014. Web. 10 Oct. 2014.!

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