Genetics Ethics

baby(Questions are meant to foster discussion.)

1. You’ve found out that the child you (or your wife) carries has the gene for dwarfism. A new therapy exists that may repair this gene before the child is born. What do you do?

a. Allow the child to be born with the gene, and we will accept the child as is.
b. Attempt the new therapy to repair the gene
c. Terminate pregnancy.

2. An agricultural company has found a way to make tomatoes 50% larger by splicing elephant genes into the tomatoes. Will you:

a. Buy the tomatoes and have no problem eating them
b. Probably not buy or eat the tomatoes
c. Protest the company. It’s not right to fool with mother nature!

3. Pet cloning is now available at the local mall. You used to have a pet dog named Charlie, but he died two years ago. Now you learn that you can get a new Charlie by just bringing in a sample of his hair. What do you do?

a. Find a strand of Charlie’s hair as soon as possible. Can’t wait to seeCharlie again!
b. Let sleeping dogs lie. (Don’t clone Charlie)

Based on the answers so far, which member(s) of your team is most likely to agree with:

-experimenting on animals

-experimenting on humans

-experimenting on plants people eat


4. A company can now create test tube babies according to parent specifications. The company can make sure that your child has all the traits you desire – hair color, intelligence, athletic ability, etc….. What d you do?

a. Sign me up, I want my child to be perfect.
b. I’d rather let nature take its course.
c. We might adjust some things to make sure the child is healthy (and has no genetic abnormalities).

5. You find out that you and your wife are both carriers for a gene that could cause your children to be severely disabled. Your child has a 25% chance of developing this condition. What do you do?

a. Choose not to have children, better to adopt than risk it.
b. Those aren’t bad odds, we’d take the chance.

6. Your family is known to have Huntington’s disease. Huntington’s is a disease that causes its victims to slowly lose their ability to speak, walk and function. Ultimately, Huntington’s causes death. There is a test that will tell you whether you have the gene for Huntington’s disease. What do you do?

a. I would take the test, so that I would be better prepared for the future, and could make sure my family was taken care of.
b. I would not want to know.

7. Cloning technology is perfected. A clone can be made from adult tissue samples. You learn that you need a kidney transplant, but there are no donors available. A doctor suggests that you make a clone of yourself, so that the kidney would be a perfect match. What do you do?

a. One is enough of me, I’ll wait for a donor.
b. Clone myself, two is better than one.

8. A government organization is proposing to have all citizens of the US submit a sample of their hair so that their DNA can be scanned and kept on file. Each person’s DNA would be kept in a national database so that police could access the DNA when a crime was committed. Do you?

a. Support this legislation
b. Oppose this legislation
c. Suggest the legislation be modified, only people with criminal records should be scanned.

basketball9. An experimental procedure would allow you to add genes to your body. You can order certain genes, like a smart gene, or an athletic gene, or a musical ability gene. What do you do?

a. We would have the procedure done, I’d like to be better in school and at sports.
b. We would not have the procedure done, people should accept themselves the way they are

10. An insurance company is requiring individuals to get genetic testing performed to determine whether they have a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, or other diseases. They are requiring that all people wanting health insurance be tested. What do you do?

a. find another insurance company, that information is none of their business
b. submit my DNA for a test, I’d like to know anyway.
c. file a lawsuit against the company

11. Final Discussion

Summarize: what areas do you agree are procedures that would be wrong or unethical and what procedures would be right (or ethical) in certain circumstances.

From The Biology Corner

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