Ethics at the Beginning of Life: Prenatal Genetic Testing

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Ethics at the Beginning of Life: Prenatal Genetic Testing
Lauren Delucca
Linda Field Despain
Cynthia Ventura-Lippert

Submitted to Dr. Mark Jumper in partial fulfillment of
HCE430, Health Care Ethics
Regis University
October 13, 2012
Prenatal Genetic Testing
Prenatal testing and genetic testing developed hand in hand. Many genes, the basic unit of heredity, are now known through the human genome project (Pence, 2011, pp. 273-274). Genetic testing can identify the existence of genes that carry potentially life impacting and threatening conditions. However, prenatal genetic testing can determine much more than simply the abnormalities or negative factors. It can indicate sex, hair and eye color, temperament,
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The distress and the health risk to the mother are concerns when viewed through the lens of the principle of nonmaleficence or of “do no harm”. The accessibility and cost of the prenatal genetic testing are contentious. Although prenatal genetic testing is considered to be a useful tool, some believe it leads us down a “slippery slope”. Controversy exists surrounding prenatal genetic testing for reasons of social, psychological, moral, and religious rationales.
Practical Problem
What level of prenatal genetic testing for abnormalities acts with beneficence to the patient, and what level of trait selection is ethical?
Arguments
Prenatal genetic testing is not intrinsically different from other medical exams or tests. The results are varied degrees of accuracy which limit the prognosis, but make it possible for parents to prepare for the birth of a potentially disabled child or to avoid the possible defects and abort the fetus (Denier, 2010). This prenatal genetic diagnosis (PGD) is routine in the United States although the patient must consent or use autonomy to refuse testing.
PGD can be helpful in determining an unknown genetic history for a child. A surrogate who may not know who the father is can now be tested and gain information that will be helpful to know the risks and genetics. The

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