Heredity and Hope: The Case for Genetic Screening by Ruth Schwartz Cowan

By Ruth Schwartz Cowan

The secrets and techniques locked in our genes are being printed, and we discover ourselves either enthused and apprehensive approximately what that portends. we glance ahead to curing affliction and assuaging suffering―for our kids in addition to for ourselves―but we additionally fear approximately delving too deeply into the double helix. Abuses perpetrated by means of eugenicists―from involuntary sterilization to murder―continue to taint our emotions approximately genetic screening.

Yet, as Ruth Schwartz Cowan finds, sleek genetic screening has been practiced due to the fact that 1960, reaping benefits hundreds of thousands of girls and youngsters around the globe. She persuasively argues that new varieties of screening―prenatal, baby, and provider testing―are either morally correct and politically applicable. clinical genetics, equipped at the wish of folks and physicians to lessen discomfort and bring up own freedom, now not at the wish to “improve the human race,” is in truth a completely various firm from eugenics.

Cowan’s narrative strikes from an account of the interwoven histories of genetics and eugenics within the first 1/2 the 20th century, to the advance of recent different types of genetic screening after mid-century. It comprises illuminating chapters at the frequently misunderstood checking out courses for sickle telephone anemia, and at the world’s basically mandated premarital screening courses, either one of them at the island of Cyprus.

Neither minimizing the trouble of the alternatives that glossy genetics has created for us nor fearing them, Cowan bravely and compassionately argues that we will increase the standard of our personal lives and the lives of our kids through the use of the fashionable technological know-how and know-how of genetic screening responsibly.

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7 Instead, the French eugenics movement advocated a variety of measures that would encourage Frenchwomen to have more and healthier children. As Lamarckians they believed that qualities acquired during a lifetime could be passed on to the next generation. They wanted “eugenical” policies that would foster the health of mothers and children, including health examinations before marriage (to ensure that the partners carried no transmissible diseases); public health programs to control tuberculosis, venereal disease, and alcoholism; construction of more sanitary housing, with space and priority for families with numerous children; and financial benefits for parents with more than one child.

With the passage of time, historical and comparative studies of eugenics have demonstrated that—like all stereotyping—wholly negative characterizations of eugenics are unfair, unjust, untruthful, and a very bad basis for policy decisions. CHAPTER 2 Eugenics and the Genealogical Fallacy Late in the winter of 1901 a British physician, Archibald Garrod, began an exchange of letters with a British biologist, William Bateson. Although neither man could have known it at the time, those letters—plus the two articles and a book which they published within the year—represent the origin of the discipline that is today called medical genetics.

Garrod and his wife had four children, three boys and a girl. All three boys died in uniform during World War I. ”12 In any event, Garrod’s fundamental interest in the “inborn errors of metabolism” was metabolic, not genetic. His hopes for the future of medicine rested on explorations of the metabolic uniqueness of each patient, not the familial pattern of disease incidence. He advocated biochemical testing, not the construction of extensive pedigrees. Toward the end of his life Garrod was invited to a meeting to discuss creating a British Council for Research in Human Genetics, but he declined to attend.

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