Genetic Testing Essay Example
In the past 2 decades, genetic testing has caused scientists to learn a great deal about genes and their correlation to various diseases and conditions. ‘A genetic test is the analysis of human DNA, RNA, chromosomes, proteins, and certain metabolites in order to detect heritable disease – related genotypes, mutation, phenotypes, or Karyotypes for clinical purposes’ (Task Force on Genetic Testing, 1997). Genetic testing involves laboratory analysis of DNA. When an alteration in a gene that is linked with a disease is identified, scientists develop tests that can distinguish an altered copy of the gene from a copy without the alteration. Progressively, researchers are able to recognize mutations and changes within genes that can lead to specific disorders. Tests for these mutations in the genes not only make it possible to detect diseases already in progress but also in certain circumstances to anticipate diseases. The findings of genetic tests can be applied to diagnose genetic disease, predict risks of disease, and identify carriers of genetic disease.
Ethics is crucial in countless aspects of health care but is particularly critical when the health care includes genetic testing. It is impractical to discuss all ethical principles that may come into play when dealing with issues raised by available genetic technologies. Yet, the principles of autonomy informed, consent, privacy/confidentiality, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice are basic to any discussion of the ethics involved in genetic testing. Correct or false, testing genes produces an ethical issue for more than just the medical professionals. Whenever genes are involved there is always the issue of bioethics and the limit to how far we should take science before we are “messing with nature.” ‘Chance to Choose: Genetics and Justice, Allen Buchanan et al’, came up with various situations in which genetic testing could be used in the wrong way. An example of this is allowing parents to test their unborn children. When they are found to be “undesirable,” for a disease or any other such characteristic the parents then decide to abort the child. this Is called selective breeding and is something that many in society see as playing God.
Socially, information from genetic testing may possibly lead to stigmatization and discrimination within communities. Refusing to undergo genetic testing can also lead to bias depending on the predominant social standards regarding acceptance and use of technology. Prejudice can be in the form of denial of health insurance, employment, or simply social acceptance. Genetic tests give an evaluation of an individual’s innate risk for disease and disability. This predictive power makes genetic testing especially prone for misuse. Employers and insurance companies have been known to deny individuals essential health care, benefits, allowances, medical coverage, or employment based on knowledge of genetic disposition. For example, A 2001 study of genetic discrimination in Australia conducted by Dr Kristine Barlow-Stewart and David Keays (Evidence of genetic discrimination in Australia | ALRC 2016) identified two cases in which candidates were required to undertake genetic testing as part of the employment selection process. They identified three cases of apparent discrimination by employers against asymptomatic employees. These cases indicate that bigotry can arise from the use of genetic test results or family medical history at different stages of the employment procedure. This type of discrimination can be socially debilitating and have severe socio-economic consequences. Finding the right balance between the privacy and confidentiality of genetic information, and what is in the best interest of family members, is an ongoing ethical and social challenge.