Genetic technologies are revolutionizing health care, but they are also raising ethical and legal issues. Healthy people who undergo genetic tests may learn they have a higher than average risk of developing diabetes or another genetic disease later in life. Such information may help them change their lifestyle to prevent the disease or minimize its effects, but the information might also be used by social institutions (such as insurers or employers) to discriminate against the person. And, if a genetic test is performed incorrectly or its results are misinterpreted, a person might undertake a hazardous and unnecessary medical intervention based on the faulty information.
Researchers at the Institute for Science, Law, and Technology at IIT are investigating the legal and ethical issues raised by genetic technologies, the mechanisms in place for quality assurance in genetic testing, and the legal protections available to people who undergo genetic testing related to diabetes.
New Federal Law Tackles Genetic Discrimination
A federal law passed on May 21, 2008 provides a starting point to address some of these concerns. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers from using genetic information (including the results of genetic tests, a family member with the disease, or participation in research) to make employment decisions about the hiring, firing, promotion, and compensation of employees. Read More.