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Genetic Ethics


The genetic revolution is changing the very nature of medicine. Advances in genetics and genomics have opened the possibility for the increased effectiveness and affordability of medicine through the prospects of personalized or precision medicine, but have also led to the selection of embryos based on their genetic makeup through preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and prenatal genetic testing or screening (PGT). Such advances have led to the altering of genes through gene therapies and other genetic interventions for the treatment of disease, but also raise concerns about potential future use of such interventions that move beyond mere therapeutic goals toward human enhancement ends. Genetic medicine is changing how we view behavior and personal responsibility, the gift of children, and the identity and nature of human beings. Developments in genetics and genomics offer exciting new modalities for medicine, they also raise a host of ethical, legal, and social considerations that include among others adverse diagnosis and genetic counseling, the rise of reprogenetics, do-it-yourself (DIY) genetic testing, gene patenting, biobanking, the prospects of big data and their application for personalized or precision medicine, as well as concerns regarding privacy and data security and the potential for genetic discrimination. Furthermore, evolving technological innovations in genetic interventions such as the development of CRISPR continue to demonstrate the importance of moral considerations and societal discourse regarding the proper limits of these technologies, particularly within the realm of human germline interventions.


  • Michael Sleasman, “Bioethics Past, Present, and Future: Important Signposts in Human Dignity” (An overview of bioethics and the breadth of issues it encompasses).
  • Paige Cunningham and Michael Sleasman, “Editing Human Beings” (An introduction to CRISPR and the Ethics of Gene Editing). For more resources geared to everyday life, click here.
  • Video resources from our Academy of Fellow Consultations on “The Ethics & Theology of Synthetic Gametes” and “Genetics, CRISPR, and Beyond?”
  • Heather Zeiger, “Embryoids: Unique Entities or Protected Like Human Embryos?”
  • Michelle Kirtley, “CRISPR Update: Considerations for a Rapidly Evolving and Transformative Technology.”


Position Statement