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Genetic Screening

Federal And State Legislation, The Constitution, Civil Rights, And Scientific Theory, Amniocentesis And The Abortion Debate

The scientific procedure of examining genetic makeup to determine if an individual possesses genetic traits that indicate a tendency toward acquiring or carrying certain diseases or conditions. In 2001, scientists first published the complete human genome map (a human's genetic blueprint), greatly advancing the capability and use of genetic screening, manipulation, and replication.

Genetic testing of humans facilitates the discovery and treatment of genetic defects, both before and after birth. CIVIL RIGHTS proponents, employers, and those who suffer from genetic diseases have debated genetic screening because the procedure poses practical and theoretical legal, economic, and ethical problems. Some theorists, for example, have suggested that genetic screening could improve society if it were made mandatory before hiring or marriage. Others say that this practice would be unconstitutional. Genetic screening is a dynamic rather than static field of medical and scientific experimentation and application that clearly involves scientific, legal, and ethical interests which may differ or compete. Accordingly, each new milestone or discovery warrants commensurate review of these interests for both beneficial and potentially detrimental consequences.

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