Assisted Reproductive Technologies and Genetic Disease: Two Theologically-based Ethical Perspectives: Protective Ethics and Proleptic Ethics Open Access

Miller, Donald Y. (Spring 2018)

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Huntington’s disease (HD) is a late-onset genetic and degenerative neuropsychiatric disease characterized by involuntary movements, depression and cognitive impairment. There is no cure for HD. A person with the genetic mutation for HD has a 50-50 chance of passing the genetic mutation to their children. With predictive genetic testing, a person at-risk for HD can confirm whether they carry the gene for HD. The related ethical questions include the rationale for accessing genetic confirmation for a terminal disease, offering predictive genetic testing to a minor whose parent has HD, a person’s right not to know their genetic status and the use of assisted reproductive technologies.

 Philosophical ethics such as consequentialism, deontology and principlism provide structures to assist people at-risk for HD in making healthcare and reproductive choices. For those seeking an ethic that speaks with a religious voice Roman Catholic and Lutheran ethics are well defined. Roman Catholic moral teaching offers clear and unambiguous guidance regarding procreation that applies to every member of the Catholic Church believing that actions have eternal significance.

 In contrast, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) social ethics does not offer clear and unambiguous dictates to its members. Rather, these social statements provide space for dialogue and discernment guided by justice, wisdom and concern for community. Lutheran social ethics encourages responsible deliberation of complex ethical questions that is respectful of an individual’s narrative and life experience.

 Each religious tradition approaches its relationship with society as well as with the individual.   Catholic moral teaching and Lutheran social ethics both encourage engagement in public policy advocacy but take significantly different approaches to church and state relationships.

Table of Contents

Introduction                                                                                                                          1

Chapter 1: The Ethical Dilemmas for Those Living with Huntingtin’s Disease                     4

Chapter 2: Roman Catholic Moral Teaching                                                                          21

Chapter 3: Lutheran Social Ethics                                                                                         40

Chapter 4: Theological Ethics and Its Role in Public and Private Life                                   61

Chapter 5: Faith, Ethics and Genetics: Companions not Competitors                                   77

References                                                                                                                             90

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