Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jan/13

15

Gene Genie

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GattacaShould people be allowed to see details of their own genetic information?

Of course.

Yet, as Reason’s Ron Bailey points out in a post linking to this article by Slate’s Virginia Hughes, “timorous and condescending bioethicists and physicians” insist on getting in the way.

Hughes notes:

The public discussion about DNA testing tends to focus on ethical dilemmas: What if doctors find that a person’s father isn’t really? Should they tell a patient about a DNA glitch if it’s only occasionally linked to disease? What if, while looking for mutations that could explain a known sickness, they stumble on others that might predict late-life dementia or indicate the presence of HIV? Would adding this data to someone’s medical record affect health insurance rates? What if—gasp—we end up with a real-life Gattaca?

These questions are worth talking about. But the genetics community and popular press spend too much time debating when and how the medical establishment should “protect” people from their children’s or their own DNA.

For example, many bioethicists argue that DNA glitches shouldn’t be disclosed if they’re ambiguous or linked to untreatable conditions. Doing so “may create unwanted psychosocial burdens on parents,” according to a commentary on newborn sequencing in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Ah yes, bioethicists.

They really are a useless, worthless bunch, philosopher-princelings and wannabe clergymen who hawk their insulting and condescending babble to a political class always looking for new reasons to tell people what not to do.

Bailey concludes:

It is way past time for 25 or so states that have restricted the right of citizens to obtain their genetic information from direct-to-consumer companies to lift their bans.

Indeed it is.

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1 comment

  • John · January 16, 2013 at 3:21 am

    “Ah yes, bioethicists.

    They really are a useless, worthless bunch, philosopher-princelings and wannabe clergymen who hawk their insulting and condescending babble to a political class always looking for new reasons to tell people what not to do. ”

    I completely agree. Now, the late Thomas Szasz, there was a bioethicist.

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