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Medicine and the Law

Should we limit the conditions for which genetic tests are permitted?

Loane Skene, Paul Nisselle

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Abstract

There is much concern about the increasing number of genetic tests becoming available, both to detect specific conditions and to determine the carrier status of fetuses. Should the use of genetic testing in these ways be restricted, and if so, how?

Article Extract

An Australian High Court judge, Justice Michael Kirby, recently expressed concern at an ethics meeting in Brisbane about the increasing number of genetic tests becoming available and the possibility that parents will use them to choose the type of children they have. He reportedly referred to fetuses being aborted after a prenatal genetic test because they have genes for conditions such as schizophrenia, early baldness or homosexuality and said that we should consider whether new laws are needed to limit the conditions for which genetic tests are permitted.

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