Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy Human Genome Program
Human Genome News, July-September 1996; 8:(1)
A Look at Future Cases: Courting Disaster?
Seminar participants agreed that, once lawyers understand the use that can be made of genetic information, the impact on the courts will be enormous. A cornucopia of cases anticipated by the group includes the following:
- Adoptions: Rights of adoptive parents to know the child's genetic makeup; the natural parents' (and on occasion grandparents') privacy rights; rights of the child.
- Criminal cases: DNA identification and defenses involved in genetic predisposition to criminal behavior; a defendant's right to have an independent examination of evidence; review of changing DNA-identification technology as the science evolves away from the use of DNA markers and toward direct genomic sequencing.
- Parent and child cases: Balancing the parent's right to know the child's likelihood of developing a disease against the child's right not to know; decisions to abort based on prenatal testing (whose choice and who represents the child?); effects of disease predis-position on custody decisions.
- Civil rights: Relief from perceived discrimination because of inherited genomic characteristics, based on the Americans with Disabilities Act, Civil Rights Act of 1964, and various other federal and state laws.
- Personal injury: Genetic testing, prenatal and adult gene therapy, and safety issues involving new biotechnology products. Health care: Assessment of genetic diseases and predispositions in court-ordered health-care cases; malpractice cases from failure to provide carrier or prenatal testing or failure to offer genetic testing where known history indicates disease potential.
- Patents: Proposals to integrate ethical and religious considerations with patent laws and decisions.
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Human Genome Program, U.S. Department of Energy, Human Genome News (v8n1).