Use of Genetic Information and Technology Ethics Statement
As Christian physicians and dentists we affirm:
- All human beings have been individually created through the providential interest and design of Almighty God. Being created in the image of God, every human being has infinite worth, regardless of genotype or phenotype.
- The diversity of individuals is part of the wonder and strength of God's sovereign design.
- Each human life is a composite of genetic, environmental, social, volitional and spiritual factors.
- God has endowed humans with minds capable of exploring but only partially understanding the magnificence and intricacies of His Creation. Human knowledge and wisdom are limited and may be used for evil or good.
- God has mandated good stewardship of Creation, both of ourselves and the surrounding world.
Therefore, we believe:
- The presence of a disability, either inherited or acquired, does not detract from a person's intrinsic worth.
- The scientific exploration of life, including its genetic foundation, is proper and consistent with God's mandate and humanity's created nature, but must be conducted within biblical constraints.
- Genetic information may be of legitimate value in guiding the care of patients.
- Because a minor is unable to give informed consent, for genetic testing of a minor to be performed, it should benefit him during the period of time prior to majority. Therefore, pre-symptomatic testing of a minor should not be performed for disorders that will not either affect his health until after majority or result in therapeutic intervention before majority.
- An individual's genetic information should be kept strictly confidential.
- Somatic cell manipulation to replace absent or defective genes is consistent with the goals of medicine, and may be good stewardship of knowledge. Such manipulation should be performed only after extensive study demonstrates the specificity, benefits and risks of these interventions, or as part of an approved clinical trial.
- Germ cell manipulation as a technology carries with it a much higher risk of harm and abuse than somatic cell manipulation, in that it affects future generations. But, we do not believe it is appropriate to preclude categorically the potential use of this technology. It may become possible to correct safely and specifically some severe deficiencies (e.g. hemophilia) for multiple generations, and we do not wish to condemn such a beneficial use of technology.
- The search for and use of genetic information to justify destroying an existing life, born or unborn.
- The use of genetic information for discriminatory purposes including infringement upon the right to procreate.
- The use of genetic manipulation to augment human attributes.
- The use of a patient's genetic information for societal benefit if such use harms or could potentially harm that individual.
- The reductionist belief that humans are simply the product of their genetic destiny.
As more knowledge becomes available, we need to seek humbly and prayerfully God's wisdom and guidance in the use of genetic information and technology.
Approved by the 1996 House of Delegates with a vote of 78 in favor and 2 opposed.