Thursday, July 28, 2016

Cloning's Implications for Genetics

From guest blogger, Hannah. 

I think it is interesting to look at the cloning case and examine its ethical implications regarding testing for genetic disorders. When discussing Allhoff's argument against current cloning cases he discovers that due to the shortening of telomerase from replications, creating a clone would be deliberately allowing that clone to live a shorter life and be subject to many of the degenerative diseases that come from old age such as various cancers, Alzheimer's disease, and others. In the case of Dolly the sheep clone, she lived for half the life of an average sheep because her cells were taken from a 7-year old sheep. Therefore, Allhoff believes that cloning is immoral and unjustified right now because of its effects on the clone.

I believe that according to these guidelines, it is immoral for parents to avoid genetic testing for diseases such as Huntington's disease, because if they abstain they did not take any preventative measures to keep that child from the pain that may come from a genetic disease. Although Allhoff disagrees with Principle Q, if you have the choice between having two children (at different times, with different people) you ought to choose the time or partner that will provide the child that is better off, he thinks that reproduction is not only aimed to maximize the child's welfare, but instead to create the best child they are able to. However, there are many tests now along with genetic engineering that would allow parents to craft the best child they are able to and therefore they may be morally required to take such genetic tests in order to create the best child that they can and ensure they will not face extreme hardships such as Huntington's disease. This may be difficult for some parents to face because it is not definite that a child will get these diseases, yet sometimes the chance is as high as 50%. If a couple discovered that their child was at higher risk for a genetic disease, the only moral choice would be to abstain from having a child. However, many parents do not want to make this discovery because they want to raise a child and many would take the risk.

Do you think it is moral for a parent to have a child when they have a risk of a genetic disease? Along those lines, do you think parents need to participate in genetic testing before they are allowed to have a child?


Bethany Vanderhoof said...

The answers to the two questions that you pose at the end of your post could have some very serious implications. Almost every family is "predisposed" to different diseases, so any child born into that family would automatically have a higher risk of developing certain diseases in his or her lifetime. Does the predisposition to heart problems, diabetes, or autoimmune diseases make it immoral for a family to expand? If this were the case, than it is likely that humans would die off-- after all, there is no "perfect" genetic makeup.

I believe that mandatory genetic testing for potential parents would be a slippery slope. It could easily lead to the genetic testing of unborn children and forced abortion if they do not meet society's genetic standard. This lies along the lines of whether or not parents should be licensed to have children. In reality, there is no difference between the following questions:

1) Should couples be licensed before they can have children?
2) Should perspective parents undergo genetic testing before they can have children?

Both of the questions above circle around to the question of whether or not having children is a right. Should children that may live less happy lives be denied entry into this world? Or should it be left to the parents' digression?

Rachel Cherney said...

I major in genetics so this area of conversation is particularly interesting to me. I guess to answer your first question, what is your definition of a genetic disease? Anything caused by genetics? Because that could be essentially anything, from Alzheimer's, to Huntington's, to anxiety and depression. If this were the case, then most, if not all parents, would not be able to have a child because mental illness is so common. People can be born with genetic diseases/abnormalities and still lead very successful lives. I don't think parents should need to participate in genetic testing, although it would be beneficial to them. Especially if genes do not segregate 1:1 and have multiple factors, it would be harder to distinguish the likelihood of the child receiving the genetic mutations.

I don't think that cloning should be done, in that regard that it would, perhaps unintentionally, but directly shorten the live of the clone.