Blog Post: Genetic Prenatal Testing
I am entering a debate in my Medical Anthropology class this Thursday regarding Genetic Prenatal Testing. This debate topic is highly contentious due to the morally problematic issues intrinsically involved. It can be argued that since developments in technology have allowed us to retrieve and disseminate this kind of information, parents and families concerned should be able to have access to it. In terms of pre-existing medical conditions in the family, such as cystic fibrosis, a parent should be able to know whether their child will be affected by the disease, and consequently make a choice regarding how they will deal with their circumstances. Or with a more socially constructed 'disability', such as down syndrome, a family may, for example, already have an affected child and should be able to decide whether or not they have the emotional or financial resources needed to raise another child with the genetic disposition.
Doctors follow strict ethical guidelines to prevent coercing individuals into making one decision over another. Also, in order to aid patients in making their decision, Genetic Counsellors are specifically trained to counsel families to fully understand what raising a child with a certain genetic disorder will entail.
However, the threat of genetic eugenics is an argument many can easily jump to.
With many disabilities, such as blindness, deafness, down syndrome, and much more, individuals are capable of leading rich, complex lives, regardless of their genetic makeup. By screening for such disorders, we imply that these individuals do not meet a socially constructed arbitrary normative standard. We threaten to eliminate cultures and languages, such as deaf culture and their mode of communication: sign language. We threaten to stigmatize individuals with genetic disorders and further, their parents for not doing everything possible to bring a 'normal' 'healthy' child into the world.
What are your thoughts, feelings, experiences on the topic of prenatal genetic testing?