Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Making Policy

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Making Policy

Article excerpt

Those who think about ethical issues in medicine and medical science have taken to asking, increasingly frequently, what it takes to make a real social difference on these matters, and whether the usual ways of thinking about them are enough. The lead feature article in this issue of the Report exemplifies this new line of inquiry. Legal scholar Mark Rothstein argues that legislation to bar genetic discrimination in health insurance, employment, or elsewhere is not the good idea it appears at first to be, for the reason that information about a person's genetic make-up is not as special as it seems to be. There's no good way or reason to distinguish it from nongenetic information, making laws specially crafted to combat genetic discrimination impracticable. Worse, such laws actually "reinforce the stigma of genetic disorders (by treating them differently from nongenetic conditions) and ignore the underlying social problems that genetic privacy and discrimination exemplify." Genetic discrimination is of a piece with any discrimination involving medical information. If we wish to avoid it, we must attack all discrimination on medical grounds.

But then Rothstein asks whether it's enough to point this out. Perhaps broad solutions are politically impossible--then what? Then drafting more limited legislation, aimed specifically at genetic discrimination, might still make sense. The latter portion of Rothstein's discussion tries to explain when specifically genetic antidiscrimination legislation would be helpful and wise, even though it would still also be, in some sense, wrongheaded.

Rothstein assumes that it is not enough to think intelligently about ethical issues in medicine and medical science; it is also necessary to think to think politically about them. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.