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Biotech Science

Sequencing the Unborn 146

sciencehabit writes "What if you could read much of your child's medical future while it was still in the womb? Taking a major step toward that goal, one fraught with therapeutic potential and ethical questions, scientists have now accurately predicted almost the whole genome of an unborn child by sequencing DNA from the mother's blood and DNA from the father's saliva (abstract)."
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Sequencing the Unborn

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  • by CodeHxr ( 2471822 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @05:35PM (#40237543)
    The caveat to this is that "ethical" is opinionated and everyone's is different. Even if the laws of your area are completely aligned with exactly how you feel about the ethical implications, there will be other areas that have vastly different laws. Even within any given area, there will be people who think the law doesn't apply to them and take things into their own hands.
  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @05:37PM (#40237563) Journal

    "Gattaca" wasn't fiction - it was an accurate prediction of a dystopian, fast-approaching and very real future.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @05:38PM (#40237581)

    Forget about traditional ethical concerns, the later in onset and more multi-factorial the disease, the less informative genetics and genomics is. Even if genetic loci can explain 10% of phenotypic variation in a given cardiovascular phenotype, who cares (aside from, perhaps, a poorly run insurance company)? Any number of biochemical markers of disease are MUCH more predictive than genotype for a host of such diseases. Your BMI, your random and fasting blood glucoses all predict your risk of T2DM MUCH more accurately than the sum of all genetic loci known to contribute to the disease.

  • by LordLimecat ( 1103839 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @06:31PM (#40238173)

    How about we let parents decide whether it's ethical for them?

    Thats begging the question: Its only OK to let the parents decide whats ethical, if your stance on abortion is correct. If it isnt, your argument would be akin to "why not let the parents decide if they want to abandon their newborn".

    Not trying to be flame/troll bait here (even tho I likely will be modded as such), but the entire argument from most prolifers is that the fetus is every bit as human as a newborn is. Unless you start off by assuming theyre wrong (again, begging the question), you cant just say "well, lets let the parents decide whether thats true"-- because we DONT take that stance with a baby post-birth.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @06:46PM (#40238315)

    Well, I just don't care for turning women into baby-making machines and telling them they don't control their own bodies. Freedom of an already born, thinking individual > life of an unborn human leeching off of a women. For me, anyway.

  • by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Wednesday June 06, 2012 @07:31PM (#40238711)

    Thats begging the question

    Stop right there. No it's not. I'll let you ask your question anyway, but it's going to be a strawman argument.

    your argument would be akin to "why not let the parents decide if they want to abandon their newborn".

    Called it! That's a strawman. We're not talking about a newborn, we're talking about an embryo. Everyone agrees that a newborn has rights, there is no consensus as to whether an embryo does. Furthermore, a newborn is not an obligate dependent on one specific person, newborns can be dropped off at any safe baby haven or given up for adoption. There's no similar alternative for pregnant women.

    My point here is that this is a totally separate issue from abandoning a newborn.

    Answering your point, no, I don't think letting the parents decide whether abortion is right or not for them is only ethical if we assume life does not begin at conception. In most countries, most ethical decisions are left up to the individual. There's no law that says I can't cheat on my wife, it's up to me to decide if I think that's ethical or want to do that. Lacking a law against adultery is not an unethical situation, it simply leaves the responsibility up to the individual.

    Legalizing abortion doesn't endorse abortion, it only leaves the ethical question up to the people who deserve to make the choice: the parents.

The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts. -- Paul Erlich