Examining Germ-Line Gene-Editing Through a Bioethical Lens

By: Sarah Maraach

Is germ-line gene-editing ethical or will it bring back eugenics?

Read the Paper

Germ-line gene-editing is currently prohibited in the US and other countries for the use in reproduction. Gene-editing has the potential to develop into a eugenic practice without proper regulation that anticipates the consequences of the technology. This is because it is a rapidly developing technology that necessitates frequent discussion and debate of the social and ethical implications it may have, in order to create legislation that can maintain the pace of its advancement. The bioethical framework is a useful starting point for these conversations through its inclusion of multiple aspects of ethics that are relevant to the individual and society as a whole. In this project, I will analyze the actions of He Jiankui in which he genetically modified embryos with the intention to make them resistant to HIV and which resulted in the birth of twins Nana and Lulu. Using the bioethical framework, it is apparent that his experiment had several ethical violations and flaws, ranging from potential uninformed consent from the parents of the twins to undue risk and possible harm posed to the twins as a result of a lack of foundational research on human subjects. Additionally, the absence of an international regulatory consensus regarding limitations to gene-editing and its uses in the future will be explored through a brief quiz followed by an explanation of three current groups of thought surrounding the restriction of gene-editing and research. While the effects of germ-line gene-editing seem distant, it is essential that discussions on the societal impact of the technology take place in order to prevent harmful practices such as eugenics from repeating itself.

comments powered by Disqus
Based on Bootstrapious.com and Kishan B