Ethical and moral issues

Parents can be faced with difficult decisions if genetic screening shows their foetus has a genetic condition.

Parents may be offered an abortion but is this the best course of action?

Many parents will argue ‘yes’, as it prevents having a child who could have a poor quality of life; a lot of time may need to be spent caring for the child at the possible expense of time with their other children.

Other parents will argue ‘no’, as the unborn child doesn’t have a say, or they will argue that it is not morally right to ‘kill’ a foetus. Additionally, abortion is banned in some religions.

For abortionAgainst abortion
Prevents child having poor quality of life.Not morally right to kill a foetus.
Child will need extra care meaning less time spent with other children.Banned due to religious beliefs.

Other issues arising from genetic screening:

  • Who decides who should be screened?
  • Is there an acceptable risk associated with genetic screening?
  • The cost of screening compared to the cost of treating individuals with a genetic condition.
  • Should genetic screening be extended to more than just serious genetic conditions?

It is possible to screen people in childhood and adulthood, providing us with an individual genetic profile.

There are ethical issues associated with making this information more public such as making it available to life insurance companies and employers.

If made public the information could help with medical research. Insurance companies may not insure certain individuals.
Insurance companies could make these individual pay higher premiums.
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