Is There A Duty to Share Genetic Information?
A number of prominent bioethicists such as Mike Parker, Anneke Lucassen, and Bartha Maria Knoppers have called for the adoption of a system in which by default, genetic information is shared among family members. In this paper, I suggest that a main reason given in support of this call to share genetic information among family members is the idea that genetic information is essentially familial in nature. Upon examining this ‘familial nature of genetics’ argument, I show that most genetic information are only shared in a weaker way among family members and do not necessarily lead to the actual manifestation of particular diseases. The upshot is that the idea that genetic information is familial in nature does not provide a sufficient ground for why we should move towards a system in which by default, genetic information is shared among family members. [Journal of Medical Ethics 35(5) 2009: 306-309] [pdf | html]