Prenatal Genome Test Raises Ethical Questions

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Hastings researchers also believe that sequencing can affect parenting. If genes associated with high intelligence or high athletic ability is not present, would it change the parents’ expectations and parenting methods?

The report lastly raises the issue of the offspring’s privacy since parents are making decisions for a person that is yet to be born. Researchers believe that the parents’ actions based on test results can take away the offspring’s right to know and choose for themselves.

Caplan said that although the genome information provided can be helpful, it does not mean that it will come to pass.

“All genetic stuff is probalistic. It is beyond argument that we have a difficult time dealing with risk,” Caplain explained.

Pamela Knight, a genetic counselor in Chatham, N.J. said that it is very difficult to make predictions from genetic information.

“We are nowhere near predicting those things,” Knight said. “It’s very, very, hard to know how to counsel people.”

The Hasting Center report said that the medical community should decide what genetic information is essential for parents to know and not know.  Researchers said that a child’s right to their genetic information should not be breached unless the child can benefit from it.

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