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The Ethics of Genetics Debate


There is much debate about the ethics of genetics. Different opinions and views are the reasons why there is not just one correct answer. Our genetic diseases class had an ethics debate on our first day to get a feel for what we think. By analyzing different statements, we would decide whether we agreed with them or not. There was a lot of variation among our class, including a few outliers. From this experiment I was able to understand ethics and the impact it leaves.

Two of the statements I found most interesting were “I only want to find out my likelihood of a disease if there are ways to prevent or treat it”, and “I would want to know if someone I was dating had a genetic condition that would likely cause a serious disease” because there were so many different opinions on them. These two especially brought up debate throughout the class. There were a lot of circumstances and factors that had to be considered to decide on your opinion. It was interesting being able to hear what my classmates ideas were and how they thought about the question. I ended up disagreeing with the first statement and agreeing with the second. I believe that no matter what the future holds, you should still know what it might possibly bring and that knowing that a person you’re dating has a genetic condition is very important for the relationship; However my ideas differed from my classmates.

This exercise taught me a lot about the ethics of genetics. I learned that having a genetic disease can have a lot more impact on your daily life and relationships than you think. I never really thought about how a person emotionally copes with a genetic disease. I can’t imagine the difficulties parents go through when they find out their child has a genetic disease. They probably feel helpless that they can’t do anything about it. That was what I liked most about this activity, I thought about things I’ve never thought about before; how they feel, what should they do, and what can be done. Listening to other people’s rational behind their opinions made me question my ideas. For example, the relationship question split the class in two opinions. The students who disagreed with my opinion argued that it shouldn’t matter if they tell the person they have a genetic disease or not. This was a valid argument and I agreed with what they said; however, my original opinion of the person should have the right to know if someone they’re dating has a genetic disease still overruled theirs.

Ethics and morals are tied together, and it is because of this tie that people make different decisions. There are very personal decisions to make when it comes to genetics. For example, whether you want to know you carry a disease or not, should you test your child for diseases without telling them, or should people have the freedom to take their own genetics tests. The decisions a person makes dealing with their genetics can greatly impact their lives; like if you decide to test your child’s DNA when they are young, you will be able to know if they have a disease and what to expect, if anything, in the future. Personal decisions like this can prepare a family for what’s to come, warn carriers of possible diseases they can pass on, or even save a life; however, these decisions are manipulated by a person’s beliefs.
This same predicament is found in all debates for all scientific discoveries. Some people think some discoveries are revolutionary while others think they should be stopped before they develop. Depending on a person’s morals, the answers to ethics are all different; yes, no, maybe, never, or always. This uncertainty causes tension for the scientific community, and I believe that scientific discoveries will always be held back with a yes or no debate. With this never ending dispute, the answers to the questions of what is right and what is wrong will never be found.


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