Genetic Testing and Cloning: Is Technology Ahead of the Law?

Essay by riguy25University, Bachelor'sB, October 2005

download word file, 15 pages 5.0


Between the ongoing decoding of the human genome, the cloning of Dolly the sheep, and the increasing promise of stem cell research (which is based upon the principles of genetic research), U.S. society has a plethora of new medical legal and ethical issues with which it must come to terms. For example, how can personhood be established when "persons" can be created at will in the laboratory? Furthermore, when personhood is established is especially relevant when considering issues of stem cell research. How can we balance the rights and needs of patients with diseases such as Alzheimer's with those of a society at large that worries about the extent to which science tends to go when given free reign? These are just some of the more obvious legal issues that have arisen with the latest trends in genetic technology. There are, of course, many others, some clearer than others.

Moreover, this is such a new form of technology that not only will unforeseen issues emerge with time, but we also will have trouble keeping up with those about which we are already aware.

Issues: Pros and Cons.

Donald Elliott (61) notes that before entering into the ethical quagmire that seems to surround these issues, legal scholars must remember that science has always changed the law, and society has always struggled with how to incorporate new scientific discoveries into its overall cultural mores. Having said that, he presents several issues that are front and center in this debate. First, and perhaps most frightening to society in general, is the worry that the ultimate reach of genetic testing will be to "design" our offspring, thus gradually phasing certain people and characteristics out of existence based upon certain arbitrary standards (62). A second issue concerns the worry about "genetic profiling" in...