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October 8, 1973

Ethical Issues in Human Genetics: Genetic Counseling and the Use of Genetic Knowledge

Author Affiliations

Northwestern University Evanston, Ill

JAMA. 1973;226(2):208. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03230020050036

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The important issues of ethics pervade these proceedings: What value privacy? Under what circumstances deceive the trusting? Who, among us, is not to count as one of us? Who, and by what authority, ought to determine another's good, another's "acceptable" risks? What is the good (enough) life? Scholars from many disciplines and several nations discuss whether "to introduce the hand of man in the fundamental process of evolution itself," or "how we can manage both to live humanely with genetic disease and yet to conquer it at the same time," or "whether the fetus is in fact a third party whose interests might warrant legal or other intervention in private medical decisions," but the grand questions remain the crucial ones.

Some errors, as the expectancy theory of rights, are exposed. Utilitarianism is both accepted and questioned. Some profound issues are posed, then sloughed, eg, the "interchangeability" of individuals presupposed by