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Monday, November 02, 2009

negative ethical, social and environmental effects of genetic counseling

While there are positive implications that may be drawn from genetic counseling, there are also negative ones which consist of the foregoing:
Genetic counseling is not advisable since the tests that frequently accompany it is found by consensual researchers to be inaccurate in diagnosing illnesses. For example, genetic counselors may tell a patient that he has a certain disease which gets him the label “at risk” due to a tested gene factor. This will make the patient anxious since uncertainty will loom in the picture. He may not be even told that it is one factor to have an “at risk” gene and another to have the environment to aggravate the prognosis of diseases.
Genetic counseling also creates a leeway of false hopes for patients. It does not give any comfort for a patient to know that he will acquire an incurable disease. It does not help in making one live a normal life devoid of pain and suffering. For instance, genetic counselors may tell a patient that they are at risk of getting ill, but not when the disease strikes, how severe the symptoms are, whether the disorder will progress over time or if treatment can still be made. It becomes harder then to have that patient have his children tested if they inherited his illness and will die a young death as he will. Genetic counseling provides a backdrop for a difficulty of having the patient's children know or not know whether they will suffer from a potentially inherited disease. This places excessive accountability on the patient, who may feel his anxiety, anger, frustration, depression, tension and guilt increasing all because of a counseling aftermath. The same feelings may be felt toward family members when information coming from the genetic counseling need to be revealed to them.
Whereas an unknowing patient may live long enough to survive a potential disease, a patient who gets advised that he is at risk of acquiring a diease may become psychologically assailed that he will inevitably develop such a disease. When a patient notices this illness, he may eventually heighten the risk. A patient may have a genetic trait that leads to a disease, but this is not a guarantee that the patient will get it. The patient may only have a higher risk if not counseled, but the very act of counseling may put the patient in a psychologically-torturing decision whether to pursue the advise to reduce the risk.
Also, genetic counseling can push nature to the limits by rendering science into messing with nature, especially when done the wrong way. To illustrate: parents can be advised by geneticists to abort an unborn fetus if it is discovered to have undesirable features like deformation, disease or maternal threats. Genetic counseling, then, reduces conception down to selective breeding. This may also result to prenatal anxiety that runs the risk of miscarriage because of psychological consequences.
In relation to the aforementioned, pregnant women advised by geneticists to have undesirable fetuses may run the risk of being blamed and guilt-ridden for their pregnancy result. The counseling made on them may create a negative impact in such a way that these women will suffer disrupted ties with their family members and community. Also, if they risk to bear their children, the counseling may pose an interference in the bonding of the mothers and children, who may be diagnosed to have disabilities. Meanwhile, genetic counseling may also discover false paternity, which will possibly tear apart marital ties.
Likewise, genetic counseling can be disadvantageous to job seekers, as they may suffer employment discrimination. If advised to have the potential of acquiring hereditary diseases which case appears as medical information, the potential employee may not be hired because the company does not want to invest time and money training the person who is predetermined for an illness.
Genetic information can also be used by insurance companies against a person. The result of genetic counseling may be used by paying insurance companies to deny coverage to high risk clients. In order to avoid paying for expensive treatments and hospitalizations, insurance companies may use genetic counseling outcome to declare that the client's high risk status is a pre-existing condition.
The same information gathered from genetic counseling can create privacy, social stigma and confidentiality issues. There is the question of who may access the information. Many people would not want anyone to see what their genetic makeup looks like. People themselves would be concerned about being counseled on their genetic status. Without intending to, their privacy may be intruded as well as their family's.

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