Prenatal Screening and Genetic Manipulation: Are We "Playing God"?

Essay by jessicagodboutHigh School, 11th grade April 2004

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There are many questions surrounding the topics of prenatal screening and genetic manipulation. Many of the processes have not even been explored enough to determine the extent of what is possible. Prenatal screening is a method used to determine certain things about a fetus. These things could range from the discovery of a Down's Syndrome child to determining the child's hair color. Genetic manipulation is the process by which potential disorders could be genetically fixed before the fetus is born. Some say that to meddle with human genes is against all rules of nature, while others think it is a scientific breakthrough that could do as much as to improve the human race. In the near future, as more information is discovered and new technology makes these things possible and even accessible to the public, people will have to choose to either support genetic manipulation or not to. I believe that genetic manipulation could be beneficial if used ethically and conservatively.

Procedures used for prenatal screening vary. The most popular method is called amniocentesis. During this procedure, a long needle is inserted into a woman's uterus through the abdomen. Some of the amniotic fluid surrounding the fetus is then drawn off and analyzed. The results can show abnormalities or chemical irregularities which can lead to the discovery of a genetic disorder. The parents can then decide whether or not to abort the fetus (Byczynski 51). Since this procedure is done when the woman is about four months pregnant, is raises questions about how late in the pregnancy an abortion should be done. If the fetus is aborted too late, it could live through it and that creates a whole new ethical issue. Another method of screening involves fertilizing several eggs in a petri dish, then testing each embryo for...