Ethical Implications of Genetic Testing Essay

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Medical specialists suggest the use of prenatal screening, as it will identify the possible risks of: the pregnancy and the available options for assessing / treating the fetus' health risks. Even though genetic testing incorporates numerous benefits, it is still important to remember that it involves risks as well. This is why issues surrounding: the moral and ethical considerations are increasing on DNA-based tests.

In every test, there are: ethical, legal and social implications involved. These will depend upon the objectives behind the examination. In medical cases, it is important to determine if there are possible treatments after the diagnosis. Moreover, the reasons of every decision are important, particularly when it is a prenatal case that is being tested. Nevertheless, all information about the patient must remain private. This is mainly because, of the outcome of genetic testing is fully related to the identification of the patient and his family (Devettere, 2009). As, it must be kept confidential in order to avoid any kind of favoritism brought on by: disseminating the patient's information.

In genetic testing, the patient's disclosure of this information is very essential in every facet of his life. For instance, if the health history of a patient's family determined that he is at risk of acquiring a genetic disorder. A DNA-based test can identify options that can treat the disease. Moreover, it can spot the possibility of the other family members developing the same disease and how it can be prevented from spreading to their offspring.

In prenatal genetic testing, it is important that the patient is informed about: every aspect of the test and the results of their reproductive decision-making (Rehmann-Sutter & Muller, 2009). Failure to provide all the necessary information of the test will deprive the patient of: the chance to evaluate and decide whether or not to continue the pregnancy (when the fetus is determined to have genetic disorder). It is an ethical obligation to present all information about: prenatal screening and genetic testing to the patient (in respect to the pregnant woman along with her partner). As a part of a woman's reproductive freedom, she has the right to terminate her pregnancy (Sanger, 2005). Moreover, the independence of a pregnant woman and her partner is established, when all information pertinent to their reproductive decision-making are provided.

In this case, the parents should know the information on the developing fetus. To include: its health condition, the presence of anomalies and its implications. As stated in the principle of beneficence, physicians must encourage and support the well-being of their patients by preventing any form of harm for occuring (Jecker, Jonsen & Pearlman, 2007). The growing access and utilization of genetic testing entails appropriate measurements in disseminating information about all the details of a DNA-based test to its patient. This is important, because it is highlighting the overall benefits and drawbacks of genetic testing. At the same time, it is illustrating the ethical and legal challenges the patient will face (if they decided to continue with the pregnancy). In many ways, one could argue that this is one the biggest issues that will continually be faced in the future.


Barigozzi, F., Henriet, D. (2009). Genetic information: Comparing alternatives regulatory approaches when prevention matters. Universita degli Studie, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche.

Devettere, R.J. (2009). Practical decision making in health care ethics: Cases and concepts. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

Jecker, N.A., Jonsen, A.R., Pearlman, R.A. (2007). Bioethics: An introduction to the history, methods and practice. Massachusetts: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Jones, N.L., Smith, A.M. (2005). Genetic information: Legal and law enforcement issues. New York: Nova Publishers.

Rehmann-Sutter, C., Muller, H. (2009). Disclosure dilemmas: Ethics of genetic prognosis after the right to know/not to know debate. United Kingdom: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Sequeiros, J., & Guimaraes, B. (2008). Definitions of genetic testing. Europe: EuroGentest Network of Excellent Project.

Sugarman, J., Sulmasy, D.P. (2010). Methods in Medical Ethics. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.

Widdows, H., & Mullen, C. (2009). The governance of genetic information: Who decides?. Cambridge: Cambridge Univesity Press.

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