Ethics and Genetic Testing

Using the assigned readings and information from the literature, compose a response to the
Screening tests for birth defects can be performed in the first trimester, second trimester or
both trimesters. Carrier testing is also an option performed prior to or during pregnancy.
Carrier testing provides information as to whether one or both parents are carriers for certain
inherited disorders. The results of these tests are used to determine an appropriate plan of care
for the patient.
Genetic testing of the fetus and the parents offers both opportunities and
ethical challenges.
As a Registered Nurse, you need to be aware of your own feelings in order to provide non-
biased professional support.
Initiate a discussion thread with your thoughts about implications of genetic testing and the
role of the registered nurse in providing support to a couple seeking guidance.
Provide one example of how genetic texting is used in the perinatal setting.
Consider if the registered nurse has the right to refuse to care for patients who choose
termination of pregnancy based on genetic testing when it conflicts with the ethics and values
of the nurse.
Discuss how medical, economic, or psychosocial issues might impact decision making
relative to genetic testing

Ethics and Genetic Testing

A registered nurse should dutifully execute the role of providing health care to
newborns and their mothers who are already undergoing or considering treatment or
termination of embryos (Richmond-Rakerd, 2013). One example of how genetic testing is
used in the prenatal setting is to determine if a child would be aborted or not. In this regard,
conditions such as Down syndrome, genetic disorders, and sickle cell anaemia are identified
using such techniques as ultrasound, serum marker testing, and genetic screening (Richmond-
Rakerd, 2013). The diseases or complications are derived from genetic testing for carrier
testing, prenatal diagnosis, and predictive testing.
The registered nurse has no right to refuse to care for patients who choose termination
of the pregnancy based on genetic testing when it conflicts with the ethics and values of the
nurse (Richmond-Rakerd, 2013). This is because an embryo can be diagnosed with very
complicated complications such as neural tube defects, spina bifida, and thalassaemia.
Therefore, when this type of child is born, his or her entire life will be in danger. In this
regard, the practitioners have to violate the codes of ethics and terminate the embryo since the
future of the unborn child is not promised (Richmond-Rakerd, 2013). Thus, the practitioner
makes the decision based on feeling rather on specified ethics. One of the economic issues
surrounding making decision regarding genetic testing is based on employment. It is found
that health insurance providers and other employers deny individuals employment
opportunities using knowledge of the risk of disease. Socially, an individual is exposed to
stigmatization and discrimination in the society Reference (Richmond-Rakerd, 2013).
Psychologically, an individual may feel ashamed of himself or herself due to the knowledge
of the genetic risks.


Richmond-Rakerd, L. S. (2013). Modern Advances in Genetic Testing: Ethical Challenges
and Training Implications for Current and Future Psychologists. Ethics & Behavior,
23(1), 31-43.

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