Analyzing if the United States’ Health Care Systems and Social Structures Would Allow for an Ethical Allocation of Therapeutic Genetic Editing

Purpose The purpose of this paper will be to analyze if the United States’ health care system and social structures would allow for therapeutic genetic editing to be morally permissible.

Objectives If therapeutic genetic editing cannot be accessed equally by all patients, then the long-term effects of such technology could widen current social inequities in the United States. It would be immoral to practice genetic editing if it contributes to the oppression of individuals. Thus, for genetic editing to be morally permissible it must be equally accessible to all individuals regardless of their income status, race, gender, ect.

Discussion This paper will first explain how unequal access to therapeutic genetic editing technologies can increase the severity of current social inequities. Then, it will look to what institutions need to be in place to prevent oppression that can stem from social structures and genomes. Finally, will then analyze current health disparities and social inequities to understand how equally therapeutic genetic editing technologies could be accessed.

Conclusion The extent of health disparities and social inequity do not allow for genetic editing technologies to be morally permissible in the United States.

  • Paper Presentation
  • philosophy, biomedical ethics, health care
  • Most discussions on the morality of genetic editing technologies focus on whether or not their initial use is morally permissible on an individual patient. I will focus on whether or not the potential future distribution of therapeutic genetic editing would be permissible in the United States.

1 thought on “Analyzing if the United States’ Health Care Systems and Social Structures Would Allow for an Ethical Allocation of Therapeutic Genetic Editing”

  1. Thanks for this interesting discussion of a timely and important topic!

    I was wondering if you could say a little bit more about the theory of justice you have in mind here. In general, what does it mean for an act to be just or unjust? And if something is unjust, do we ipso facto have an overriding moral reason not to do it?

    Part of why I’m asking is that I can imagine an objection of the following sort being raised. Someone might say, “Your argument proves too much! It would seem to follow from what you’ve said that it’s never okay to provide (or receive) a benefit that isn’t equally available to all people. But this means, for example, that we should only allow cancer research and treatments if we can guarantee that everyone will have equal access to them. If some people will be able to be treated and others won’t, then no one should be treated. Or to take an example that’s close to home for all MEHA participants, we could make the same argument against higher education: it’s immoral to provide access to college unless everyone has equal access to college. But this is implausible; even those of us who strive for greater equity in both healthcare and higher education can agree that it’s good for some people to be cured of cancer, and good for some people to go to college, even if, for one reason or another, not everyone can.” Or something like that. I’m not sure how well I’ve expressed the sort of challenge that seems likely to be raised. Anyway, do you have any thoughts on this kind of objection? Does it miss the mark? Or do you have a response to it?

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