The answer to the question of whether genetic testing should be limited to certain specific traits and diseases depends strongly on the ethical perspective used as a framework. From the libertarian point of view, it is difficult to justify almost any kind of testing since it opens up the possibility of the privacy breach and violates human rights. The utilitarian perspective, on the other hand, can be used to justify most procedures since they significantly increase the quality of life for both the newborns and their parents. However, certain points can be agreed upon using both approaches.
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For instance, real health conditions such as Huntington’s disease should not be exempt from testing even though there are no known preventable measures and their impact will not be observable until adulthood (Genetics Generation, n.d.a). While it may look like a violation of the newborn’s rights, we should not forget that parents are responsible for the wellbeing of their children and are to make the necessary decisions. The traits such as height, on the other hand, are not related to health in any meaningful way and should, therefore, be excluded from the list of acceptable justifications for testing (Genetics Generation, n.d.b).
Since it can be expected that certain traits, perceived as desirable, will create demand for independent vendors, laws and regulations are necessary to prevent the emergence of such unethical practices. The laws must address the traits that are unrelated to diseases and do not require surgical intervention to be alleviated (therefore, polydactyly should not be excluded).
It should also be emphasized that the PGD procedure significantly simplifies the process of achieving a desirable outcome while the test conducted on a pregnant woman offers mostly preventive opportunities. Therefore, the former is to be discouraged in cases where no apparent risk of disease is present.
Genetics Generation. (n.d.a). Case study: Huntington’s disease and personal autonomy.
Genetics Generation. (n.d.b). Case study: Preimplantation genetic diagnosis and “designer babies.”