Assessment of the impact of genetic technologies requires an understanding of the ethical issues that such technologies raise, which in turn requires an understanding of the social context of genetics.
This article discusses 10 factors that characterize the social context of contemporary genetics, and considers two presumptions that usually are unquestioned - first, that more choice is always better, second, that what can be improved should be improved.
Recent experience with genetic screening and testing to increase reproductive choice indicates that it is sometimes an ambiguous good.
Prenatal testing, which has been guided by an ideology of nondirective counseling, will become increasingly problematic as the menu of possible genetic tests grows longer, because nondirectiveness offers no way to distinguish between significant disease and parental whim.
In the realm of reproduction, more choice may also come to mean increasing parental responsibility to have genetically « healthy » offspring.
Technologies intended to improve health outcomes may also be used for non-health-related goals - such as to increase athletic performance or to capitalize on social prejudices.
Genetic technologies increasingly will challenge the troubled distinction between therapy and enhancement.
Mots-clés Pascal : Conseil génétique, Dépistage, Prénatal, Maladie héréditaire, Thérapie génique, Evaluation, Etude critique, Ethique
Mots-clés Pascal anglais : Genetic counseling, Medical screening, Prenatal, Genetic disease, Gene therapy, Evaluation, Critical study, Ethics
Notice produite par :
Inist-CNRS - Institut de l'Information Scientifique et Technique
Cote : 95-0094345
Code Inist : 002B23A. Création : 09/06/1995.