A "genetic revolution" is upon us. Techniques for genetic testing have increased in sophistication, and an international effort to map and sequence human DNA—The Human Genome Project ("HGP")—is now well under way. We are beginning to exploit our new found genetic knowledge. Recognition of the relationship between developments in genetic science, law, and public policy, is creeping into the "literature" and into the law school curriculum. Even the popular 60 Minutes television "news magazine" recently did a program on the perils of genetic testing. Still, for lawyers and policymakers at least, the material is not all that accessible.
The following Problems were developed by the faculty of the College of Medicine of the University of Kentucky and were used in a panel presentation for medical students. The discussion that follows each hypothetical is far from exhaustive, and is offered as a starting point. Readers desiring more information are directed to the Selected Bibliography.
These Problems present a rather thorough survey of the "issues." They give the reader some notion of the state-of-the-art in genetic research and its applications; the Problems also suggest possible implications for confidentiality, tort liability for disclosure, lawsuits for "wrongful birth" and "wrongful life," and so on; and they allude to the newsworthy Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"). Finally, the Problems may motivate the reader to reflect on other topics, such as euthanasia and eugenics, from another perspective.