The chips are down. Americans have taken to gambling in a big way. In 1998, legalized gambling grossed more than the music industry, the motion picture industry, and theme parks combined ($50 billion).1 Gambling problems have increased rapidly in the wake of these trends. Of greatest social concern is “pathological gambling,” a diagnosis established in 1980 by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III).
Basic Questions on Genetics, Stem Cell Research, and Cloning: Are These Technologies Okay to Use?
By Linda K. Bevington, Ray C. Bohlin, Gary P. Stewart, John F. Kilner, and C. Christopher Hook.
(Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2004)
On May 5, 2004, a front-page story in newspapers around the U.S. reported the production of babies to provide bone marrow or umbilical cord blood for their sick siblings. The reproduction process involved producing many embryos through in vitro fertilization (IVF), testing them for how well they genetically matched their siblings, throwing away the majority who did not match well, and only implanting some of those who remained. The testing technique used in such procedures is called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD.
A recent USA Today article describes the difficulties of Joe Fletcher and his family in Northern Ireland. Joe’s son, Joshua, has Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a condition that usually occurs as a spontaneous genetic mutation.1 If the affected individual reaches reproductive age, the trait is usually heritable as an autosomal dominant disease. Joshua must receive repeated blood transfusions to counteract his inability to produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen to various parts of the body.
Challenges for the Future of Genetic Medicine1
The future of genetic medicine will be marked by social, ethical, and legal challenges, especially for the disability community. Some of the most important challenges include the diagnosis/therapy gap, confidentiality, and prenatal screening--each of which is briefly addressed below.
The genetics and genomics revolution has at its core information and techniques that can be used to change humanness itself as well as the concepts of what it means to be human. The age-old human fantasies of the mythical chimeras of the ancients, supernatural intelligence, wiping disease from human inheritance, designing a better human being, the fountain of youth, and even immortality now have biotechnical credence in the theoretical promises of genetics and genetic engineering.
We have by now become accustomed to having national bodies appointed to examine public policy questions raised by our increasing biotechnological powers, and we have become equally accustomed to reading reports issued by such bodies. But what would we say about a report that is more than 300 pages long, that is in large part an extended philosophical discussion, and that offers no policy recommendations whatsoever?
The telephone, the airplane, the nuclear bomb, humanity's first journey to the moon, and the Internet: such major generational achievements shape how generations are perceived in history. Most scholars agree that more good than bad has resulted from each innovation or endeavor listed above. For example, the "Manhattan Project" was initiated to develop the nuclear bomb to end a long, brutal war. Historical accounts of World War II tell us that the "right side" won and that oppression and evil were crushed.