Ethics and the Human Genome


Due May 21 (Just one version —no rewrite)

1 copy

Length is flexible, but aim for about 5-7 pages.

You may consult with your writing fellow, but not required.


Your Task

Ethical Challenges (proposed bills).

“Should there be a law that  ­­­(pick one)__?”

  1. "Medical right to know."Requires that biological parents who put their child up for adoption provide samples of their own DNA for inclusion in the child’s medical record.
  2. "Lethal weapons control." Requires that bionic limbs be treated like handguns: Specifically, they must be registered as lethal weapons; prospective owners must have a police background check before receiving one; owners must obtain a license to carry one in a manner that constitutes “concealment” (i.e., when not obvious to observers that the limb is bionic).
  3. "Protection of human dignity act." Requires physicians and other medical personnel to actively protect the personal dignity of all patients under their care. That is, they have a legal obligation—an affirmative duty—to prevent actions and conditions that would dehumanize patients.

  4. "Freedom of research act, Section 2.2." Allows researchers to grow embryos of animal-human chimeras for up to 3 months (comparable to the first trimester of pregnancy).
  5. "Right to self-improvement." Allows individuals to use any genomic technology to alter their physical or psychological selves in any way they choose.
  6. "Freedom to choose one’s genetic heirs." Allows a woman to reject any of her embryos or fetuses on the basis of poor genetic quality. For purposes of this law, fetuses become legal persons when delivery —the often lengthy birthing process —has been fully completed

  7. "Presumed innocent act." Forbids the FBI and other law enforcement agencies from permanently storing DNA samples, or the results of analyzing them, obtained from individuals who have never been convicted of a felony. For purposes of his law, "permanent" means "after a verdict has been rendered in the case for which their DNA was collected."
  8. "Family right to genomic privacy." Forbids making one'’s own genome public without first obtaining written permission from all first-degree genetic relatives (biological parents, siblings, and children).
  9. "Freedom from genetic coercion." Forbids any manipulation of a human’s genome without that individual’s informed consent. The bill is silent on whether fetuses have a right to be born, but it states that all individuals born have a right to genetic integrity from moment of conception until such time as they reach the legal age of consent and can decide for themselves. (Assume that the legal age of medical consent in the state is age 16.)
  10. "Sanctity of life patent act."” Forbids obtaining a patent, retaining a patent, or otherwise owning the rights to genetic code that is used to create new life forms capable of moral reflection, self-awareness, and time travel (e.g., "persons"). [Time travel is the ability to conceptualize one's existence along a timeline: past, present, and future.]
  11. "Preservation of embodied minds act."” Forbids the development or use of any technology that creates, attempts to create, or sustains forms of human consciousness that do not reside in a human body (that is, fully human "minds" that are disconnected from any human body). The term non-human body includes but is not limited to machines, computers, and non-human species.

  12. Others. You can send suggestions or general ideas to me, and I’ll work them up into a potential law.

Evaluation criteria Please see the Formatting Guidelines and Grading Rubric for further guidance.