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    Peer Reviewed

    Life and death decisions.

    Bane A; Brown L; Carter J; Cote C; Crider K

    International Social Work. 2003 Apr; 46(2):209-219.

    Genetics is a relatively new science with a wide range of applications that lead to an even broader range of issues. Since Darwin (1859) proposed his theory of evolution in Origin of the Species, scientists have been trying to locate the biological structures for the transmission of traits from generation to generation. The 20th century yielded considerable fruit in this endeavor. In fact, a complete map for this transmission process is close at hand. On 26 June 2000 Craig Venter, President Bill Clinton and Francis Collins announced the completion of an initial sequencing of the human genome (Hamilton and Regalado, 2001; Collins and McKusick, 2001; Collins, 1999; National Research Council, 2000). Called the Human Genome Project, this has already identified the genes determining Huntington's chorea, polycystic kidney disease, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia and various other genetic diseases (Hodgkinson et al., 1990; Varekamp et al., 1990; Wertz et al., 1992). The purpose of the Human Genome Project is to identify, prevent or cure genetic abnormalities. As this research progresses, many preventions and cures for hereditary diseases seem to be within reach, although identification of these diseases is often the only recourse at this time (Hamilton and Noble, 1983; Paul, 1997; Von Wartburg and Liew, 1999). Currently, genetic screening is becoming increasingly available to the public (Fertel and Reiss, 1997; Rauch, 1988; Schroeder, 1991; Young and Robinson, 1984). History suggests that as testing procedures are made available, they are rapidly introduced to the American public. For example, shortly after the test for polio was discovered it was administered to millions of American children. (excerpt)
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