Genetic Testing Essay, Research Paper
Is it morally right to peer into a mother?s womb and select a child?s future according to how it is progressing or how healthy it is? Is it right to use the capabilities that science has uncovered to create our children? Or should those decisions and concerns be left for God? According to Kim Painter? prenatal testing is about reassurance; couples expect to learn that their babies will be fine. But it?s also about avoiding the births of disabled children.? ?Many people think that using prenatal genetic testing to detect disability is morally objectionable, partly because it expresses a hurtful message about people with disabilities. Connected with the moral objections is a second concern–that prenatal testing depends on a misunderstanding of what life with disability is really like?(Erik Parents).
When a mother becomes pregnant, she might want to find out what sex the baby is, or if the baby will be born nice and healthy. The technology is readily available to the mother to get the prenatal testing, but where does the science stop and nature kick in? If it is found that the baby will not be born normal, who is there to make sure that the baby is born and not aborted? When does the science stop? The technology is there for our parents to decide how the child is born and what condition the child is born with. What about when we have the technology to change the babies to our liking? Is that morally right? Do we as humans have the right to play God with our offspring? I say no, the selection of the attributes that each human gets is a privilege that only God has the right to. We as humans shouldn?t have the moral right to be able to peer in to the mother?s womb and decide whether the child is fit to be alive on this earth. There isn?t anything wrong with looking to see if the child is a boy or a girl. However, when we start to test for different diseases that will affect the child?s life we start to make decisions that will either kill a life or let things go as they are meant to be. This is morally wrong and is against every moral on this planet.
There are many different tests that a couple can get when they are pregnant and they believe that the baby could some how have any type of disease. Some prenatal tests are used to detect the possibility of a problem. Diagnostic tests are typically invasive procedures and recommended for women at higher risk of experiencing an abnormality. Ultra sound is a prenatal test that displays a 3 dimensional image of a fully formed fetus seemingly floating in space, by using sound waves. 3-D ultra sound is relatively new but has both promise and drawbacks to the parents who decide to take this test. ?By viewing the fetus in three dimensions, doctors can more accurately discover or confirm problems. However, expectant parents may find it extremely hard to reconcile the exquisite pictures with the knowledge that that baby will be born gravely ill? (Shari Roan). This new procedure already is raising thorny ethical issues for parents who must decide what to do when the test results come with bad news. With 3-D ultrasound comes the fear that detailed information early in the pregnancy will lead couples to terminate pregnancies in which there is a correctable and non life-threatening disorders, such as webbed fingers or a cleft lip (Shari Roan). Alpha-Fetoprotein, Multiple-Marker Tests are screening tests that indicate a possible problem and are offered to all pregnant women. These tests are different from diagnostic tests because they can?t cause any type of harm to the mother or baby. The most popular of these tests is a blood test that checks for alpha-Fetoprotein, a protein produced by the baby. Researchers are also looking at other “markers” in a woman’s blood that can indicate the presence of Down syndrome. While tests looking for three substances: AFP, human chorionic gonadotropin and estriol, are already in use, studies are underway to add one or more other markers to the list (Shari Roan). ?The mainstay of prenatal genetic testing, amniocentesis carries a slightly higher risk of miscarriage–about a half-percent beyond normal. Earlier this decade, there was enthusiasm for performing amniocentesis in the first trimester, around 11 to 14 weeks. Diagnoses made in the first trimester are preferable because a couple can learn of a problem before they have announced the pregnancy. And pregnancy terminations carry much lower risks than when performed later? (Shari Roan).
Doctors have more than 450 tests for genetic disorders, and with new genes discovered every month, there now are prenatal tests for at least 200 inherited conditions, 10 times as many as when testing began. More than 25 years after amniocentesis first was offered to a few high-risk pregnant women, prenatal genetic testing has become so widespread that at least half the pregnant women in the country will have preliminary genetic tests this year. In California, the only state to keep exact figures, the figure is 70%. (Kim Painter). “The pace of discovery is continually escalating,” says Aubrey Milunsky, a prenatal testing pioneer who directs the Center for Human Genetics at Boston University School of Medicine. “It is now possible to a detect a much larger number of genetic defects in a fetus earlier in a pregnancy than has ever been possible before.” USA TODAY examined the state of prenatal genetic testing in interviews with doctors, genetic counselors, ethicists and parents nationwide. It found a thriving field in the midst of a string of scientific breakthroughs, but also one torn by ethical debates. In 1997, at least half the women who learn their fetuses have serious genetic disorders will end their pregnancies after testing. California data and anecdotal reports from doctors and genetic counselors suggest the abortion rates range from at least 50% to as high as 90% in some parts of the country for fetuses with Down syndrome. Down syndrome, caused by an extra chromosome, results in a mix of retardation and health problems, but is not fatal. For such fatal disorders as anencephaly (the absence of a brain), a chromosome disorder that usually kills within two years, or Tay-Sachs, which is fatal in five years, the abortion rate approaches 100%. (Kim Painter).
Each day, genetic tests allow women to learn that the children they carry will be born free of disorders from Down syndrome to hemophilia. But that also means that each day, a growing number of parents face the agonizing responsibility of deciding whether their children will be too disabled, too retarded or too chronically ill to be born at all. Prenatal testing helps prospective parents have healthy babies. In the near future, it will be possible to catch these diseases early enough that doctors will be able to perform in the womb gene therapy to cure the fetuses of the problems that they have. Negative or reassuring prenatal test results will reduce the anxiety felt by many prospective parents, and this in itself can be construed as part of good prenatal care (Eric Parents). If a mother has a positive outlook of life while she is pregnant, then the baby is able to sense that and is able to stay healthier. ?Using prenatal tests to prevent the birth of babies with disabilities seems to be self evidently good to many people. Even if the testing will not help bring a healthy baby to term this time, it gives prospective parents a chance to try again to conceive?(Parents).
Prenatal genetic tests are morally problematic. The tests usually lead to abortion, and abortion after prenatal diagnosis is morally problematic. There are two basic reasons. First, selective abortion expresses negative or discriminatory attitudes not merely about a disabling trait, but about those who carry it. Second, it signals an intolerance of diversity not merely in the society but in the family, and ultimately it could harm parental attitudes toward children (Eric Parents). Prenatal tests tend to select against disabling traits and express a hurtful attitude about and send a hurtful message to people who live with those same traits. ?As with discrimination more generally, with prenatal diagnosis, a single trait stands in for the whole, the trait obliterates the whole. With both discrimination and prenatal diagnosis, nobody finds out about the rest. The tests send the message that there’s no need to find out about the rest? (Parents). The second argument that prenatal testing is morally problematic we call the parental attitude argument. According to it, using prenatal tests to select against some traits indicates a problematic conception of and attitude toward parenthood. Part of the argument is that prenatal testing is rooted in a “fantasy and fallacy” that “parents can guarantee or create perfection” for their children. If parents were to understand what they really should seek in parenting, then they would see how relatively unimportant are the particular traits of their children (Parent).
After prenatal testing a mother has to make the incredibly difficult decision of whether the fetus will lead a normal life when born or will the fetus live its life in pain and agony? This decision is both a moral and a psychological one, the decision that the parent makes will shadow her in the future so she needs to think hard and be careful in the decision that she makes. Prenatal testing is a very touchy subject, some of the tests are used to find out what sex the baby is or how the baby is doing, but some of the tests are potentially harmful to the baby and the mother. These tests are done to find specific wrongs with a fetus and are done only if certain circumstances exist. These tests usually lead to the abortion of the baby, which is morally wrong. If a test leads to something that is morally wrong then is the test itself wrong also? What tests are ok and which tests are wrong? This is for the parents to decide but let me give you this, when a baby is aborted that is one more life that could have been on this planet one more person to love. If something inadvertently causes a human being to die, then that thing should be morally wrong it is evil and should not be allowed to exist. Not all prenatal tests are wrong if a couple wants to find out what sex a child is. There is no harm in that. But when a parent wants to see if a child has a problem in order to decide whether or not to abort, then that test becomes wrong.