Protecting the vulnerable: Genetic testing and screening for parentage, immigration, and aboriginality
Gesche, Astrid H. (2006) Protecting the vulnerable: Genetic testing and screening for parentage, immigration, and aboriginality. In Betta, Michela (Ed.) The moral, social, and commercial imperatives of genetic testing and screening : the Australian case. Springer, The Netherlands, Dordrecht, pp. 221-236.
As health care professions, law enforcement agencies, governments, employers, insurance companies and others rush to utilise genetic information about individuals with whom they interact or have relationships with, conflict may arise between different stakeholders. In such circumstances, it may be the function of ethics to balance competing interests and activities, explore alternatives and options and protect the vulnerable from harm. Ethics may explore and advise on issues of the moral life, but sometimes it needs the backup of constructive policy developments and the investigative, protective and guiding forces of the law to achieve a more mutually beneficial outcome. This chapter on DNA kinship testing is an example of such merging of forces, namely ethics, policy and law to protect the vulnerable. It portrays the effects of unethical behaviour on three different stakeholders and makes some recommendations on how to re-establish and protect the moral life. Genetic kinship testing can create multiple vulnerabilities, all of which can be experienced on an individual, societal and cultural level. Parentage testing stands as an example where vulnerability to an individual is created by not observing proper consent procedures; genetic identity testing for immigration purposes discusses identify fraud and the potential harm to society; and, lastly, DNA kinship testing of Australia's Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples demonstrates that it is appropriate to sometimes let the socio-cultural triumph over the biological.
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