Genetic Engineering

Genetic Engineering, an Ethical Dilemma

Genetic Engineering, an Ethical Dilemma

Grand Canyon University
NRS 437V

November 13, 2011

Genetic Engineering, an Ethical Dilemma
Introduction
The formal definition of genetic engineering according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is ???the directed alteration of genetic material by intervention in genetic processes???. In other words, it is a scientific alteration of the genetic structure in a living organism. There are many different methods in genetic engineering, but the ultimate goal of any of the methods is to manipulate the genetic material in a living organism in other to change its hereditary traits or to produce a certain quality. In a recent news cast segment, it was stated that scientists were closer to put in practice the use of genetic engineering as an alternative method for sex selection. It is quite probable that soon parents will be able to use genetic engineering such as Preimplantation genetic diagnosis of PGD to choose their baby??™s gender.
Ethical Theory/Principle
Procreative autonomy ???is the liberty to decide when and how to have children according to what parents??™ judge is best. Many parents may feel if the technology exists, then they should have the procreative right to choose the gender of their child to create the type of family they want to have. What this particular argument fails to address is that procreative autonomy concerns an individual??™s control of their role in procreation and allows them to exercise their individual liberty. It should not explicitly grant them the liberty to intervene with the natural formation of a child because that would interfere with the child??™s individual liberty and autonomy. Another dilemma facing the practice of genetic engineering might the fear that we are playing God without knowing future outcome. Secondly, for more practical purposes, when this genetically engineered child is born is he or she likely to a genetic composite which would include new defect that were not previously known.
Decision Making Model
It would be easy enough to understand why parents may want to create a child especially to save another child. It would be even understandable if the choice of genetic engineering was made because of serious genetic diseases which could be passed on to a child conceived the old fashion way. The parents have the right to inquire about such procedure, they even have the right and freedom to choose; but where is the child??™s right, would there be any stigmatism attached once it becomes public that the procedure had been performed successfully. How would he or she feels; self-esteem would become an issue, knowing the purpose for creating him might make them feel less than a normal person The idea of genetic engineering a child solely for sex selection causes an even greater concern. In places where a specific sex was valued over another, this process would create the valued sex therefore, creating an imbalance in the world as we know. In such situation, procreative autonomy would have to be monitored severely, because it would affect not only a family but the world at large.
My Ethical Position
When I think of ethics in genetic engineering, I often think of myself and my health situation. Not too long ago, I was diagnosed with a rare disease for which there was no cure. The only available option was surgery to remove my colon. For years, I will have to be monitored closely since the disease could affect other parts of me. This disease called ???familial adenomatous polyposis, FAP??? turns out can be passed on to your children, so now my son has to be tested. Knowing what I know now, I would probably have wanted to know about my genetic background before having a child. However, I am not sure I would want to create him in such a mechanical way as in genetic engineering. I still believe in the idea that God created us for a reason, so why would I or anyone else want to play God. It could be my fear of God, or maybe the fear of the unknown. When remove genetic materials that are undesirable, are there another even that happen there we have yet to be aware of. Though I live with fear for my son getting the disease, I don??™t think I would want him any other way.
Alternatives for resolving the problem
Genetic engineering for sex selection is not a problem that you present alternatives to. A parent using procreative autonomy most likely is not thinking of all the consequences, simply, they are thinking of their own needs. There can only be education about the subject matter, and making sure the parents understand clearly what they are doing. For those parents who would be thinking of this procedure for medical purpose, all other possible solutions should be tried first before undertaking such decisions. Most of all, the best alternative to prevent those later decisions should be to educate couple to get genetic testing prior to marriage. Only through such testing would they know what diseases are likely to be passed on from one generation to another. Should they decide to create a child in order to save another child??™s life, then they should receive counseling so they would know what they will be facing ahead of time.
Conclusion
Procreative autonomy in genetic engineering is a personal choice which most likely will come in the near future. Does it mean that this is something that everyone should practice, who decide what kind of children are more desirable to the world. More pressing question is, are we likely to produce more genetic diseases. After all, it has been shown that in food and animals, when they were genetically altered, the end result was not always what was being sought, as well as some more desirable traits were created from such alteration. Overall, this process need to be studied carefully.

References
A California Fertility Clinic Promotes High-Tech Sex Selection
Posted by Marcy Darnovsky on September 22nd, http://www.biopoliticaltimes.org/article.phpid=5862
American Society of Reproductive Medicine (1999) Ethics Committee, Sex
selection and Preimplantation genetic diagnosis. Fertile. Sterile., 72, 595?±598.

American Society of Reproductive Medicine (1994) Ethics Committee,
Ethical considerations of assisted reproductive technologies. Fertile. Sterile.
(Supplement), 62, 32S-37S.

American Society of Reproductive Medicine (2001) Ethics Committee,
Preconception gender selection for nonmedical reasons. Fertile. Sterile., 75,
861?±864.