Past Event

Who Gets to Live? The Ethics of Genetic Testing


  1. After undergoing a new screening test offered to pregnant women under 35 years of age, a woman is told that the fetus would have Down Syndrome. She is not sure if she should continue with the pregnancy.
  2. A couple with two girls is planning to have a third child and desperately wants to have a boy. After they conceive, they decide to take a new test that tells the gender of thefetus. If it is girl, they are considering aborting it and continuing to trying for a boy.
  3. An infertile couple goes through the process of in vitro fertilization using donated embryos. They have the option of selecting embryos based on traits of the donors including level of education, eye color, and medical history. They are surprised to discover that agencies advertising donors from Ivy League universities are double the cost of others.

These scenarios are encountered with increasing frequency by hopeful parents across the country. As the possibilities offered by genetic testing become reality, the ethics of performing these procedures and the decisions that arise because of them become more controversial.

Should we base our decisions about having a particular child on the costs of raising it? Should the potential burden or contribution a child might pass to their family and society be a deciding factor? What are the ethical issues surrounding the selection of a child based on their gender? Is prenatal diagnosis a form of eugenics?

How should we make private and public decisions about potentially modifying the makeup of our families and the overall population?

Join us this week at Café Society to share your thoughts about who gets to live.

Suggested Readings:

Genetic Testing + Abortion = ???

Prenatal Test Puts Down Syndrome in Hard Focus

Unnatural selection?

The Embryo Factory

RHTP statement on development genetic testing

Technology And Children: The Slippery Slope

For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.