Genetic Testing: The Role of Ethics in Modern Day Developments Essay Sample
Introduction: Overview of Scientific Developments and Its Impact
Some of the most spectacular inventions and discoveries have been witnessed by mankind. This has been a continuing process of learning, improving the knowledge and skills of man with each single step. From the simple inventions of light bulbs, telephones, the modern day scientist has delved deeply into things, producing innovations such as cloning, stem cell research and genetic engineering.
Innovations linked to scientific developments are as ordinary as the next invention. Not literally, but figuratively, in the aspect of producing inventions almost everyday. The extent of knowledge of mankind has evolved and developed that almost every sickness, need and want is readily made available to willing consumers. (Robertson) This has tremendously spurred controversies and at times heated arguments from different sectors of society, both praising and condemning works of science. Foremost of these issues is genetic testing. It has elicited a lot of comments, feedbacks and views from people around the globe. Its importance, moral ground and relevance have been questioned over and over again.
Genetic Testing: Its Relevance and Role
The need to cure has already been replaced with the need to prevent and anticipate future diseases. This is where the role and relevance of Genetic Testing comes in. generally, it means the diagnosis of a person’s gene in order to identify ancestry, study one’s genetic structure and gather information on inherited diseases. The testing is very relevant in medical cases where the person would seek the help science can provide by knowing the disorders associated with a particular gene he or she is carrying. By doing this, certain conditions and diseases can be identified, acknowledge or ruled out, depending on what the testing is done for. (Golde 265-266)
Genetic Testing: Pro Genetic Testing and the “Right to Know”
In performing the Genetic Testing, one of the primary consideration is the privacy of the individual undergoing such test and the confidentiality that would exist between the patient and the doctor in cases where the results of the genetic testing has been done and results are valid and confirmed. It has always seemed that the main issue in this argument regarding genetic testing is the morality clause that is accompanied with it. By morality clause, it means to say that individuals have different views and at times, different sectors of society cannot arrive at a meeting point. For genetic testing, many argue that it is not right to be one step advance with what God has planned for us. Some believe that death is something that we should not deny to ourselves because it is the natural cycle of life. By having genetic testing and identifying probable cause of sickness, which may lead to death, science can minimize mortality rates of individuals, treating death as an ordinary number of individuals. (Phillips 161-167)
Genetic Testing should be allowed and supported because when it all boils down to it, the important thing is that the individual has decided on his or her own, and that the procedure will work in his or her favor. Genetic Testing is very useful not only to the individual but also to other entities such as insurance companies, corporations and offices. Others think that this would be violating the privacy of the individual. (Andrews) On the contrary, insurance companies can provide better products by having data of projected inherited diseases of individuals, and from there work to have products that would be of greater assistance to individuals similarly situated in terms of genetic testing.
Employers can also properly gauge the kind of working environment that should be created for individuals with specific health conditions and needs. There is nothing to disapprove of once the real facts are provided and the benefits of genetic testing are laid down. Inevitably, acceptance of such procedure will come if the administration of genetic testing is done properly in light of providing information and not to simply discriminate others because their disorders are discovered or identified. (Johnson)
Genetic testing has positive and negative psychological impacts on family members. On the light side, susceptibility testing may clarify misconception of patients who think that their risk of developing a certain cancer or disease is higher than it really is. This reduces the distress on the patients and their families. Moreover, informing family members about the risk may lead to deeper and improved relationships through sharing of anxiety, alleviation of guilt, and the likes. On the dark side, family dynamics with regard to testing may arise; there are anticipatory losses surrounding the fear of diagnosis, compromised health and ability, and death. Also, the patient is compelled to share the test results with family members, who may also be at risk. Some unaffected family members may experience survivor guilt, the wonder why he or she was spared the fate of the affected relative. (Fine)
Science has indeed evolved. Genetic testing is one proof of science’s continued improvement and knowledge acquisition. The most important thing is that it be used for benefit of mankind. Genetic testing should be allowed with an assurance that privacy of information is protected. It gives families the right to have members, especially the children, who are healthy, and free of diseases and disabilities. Some individuals with pre-natal genetic disorders might not have been born without such testing.
Andrews, PM (2003). Medical Cell Biology. Mc Graw Hill.
Golde, DW (1991). The Stem Cell. Scientific American, pp. 265-266, vol. 86.
Johnson, L. (1999). Family Climates: Family Factors Specific to Disorders and genes. Mc Graw Hill.
Phillips, S. (1985). Characteristics of Family Background: Genes. Psychother Psychosom, 43, (3), 161-167.
Robertson, David (2001). Genes and disorders. University of Geneva.
Fine, B. (1999). Psychological Impact on Mutation Testing. New York State Department of Health. <http://www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/cancer/obcancer/append4.htm>.