As research continues to uncover new disease-causing mutations, it becomes increasingly possible to stop the transmission of certain heritable diseases. In the long term, this may lead to complete eradication of diseases like Down Syndrome, cystic fibrosis, and hemophilia. However, some wonder if modern day attempts to eradicate hereditary disorders equate to eugenics.
One complication of genetic testing for the purpose of disease eradication is that, in practice, a particular ethnic group will likely be involved due to shared ancestry. For instance, Tay-Sachs disease is significantly more common in certain Jewish communities. Tay-Sachs is a genetic disease that causes a deterioration of mental and physical abilities and results in death by age four. Eradicating Tay-Sachs will require screening all individuals in the affected population. However, a public campaign to test all individuals of Jewish descent for Tay-Sachs carrier status may for some recall the racist motivations of eugenicists in the early 20th century, particularly those associated with Nazi Germany. Also, racial stereotypes or biases may be reinforced if genetic testing performed on individuals of an ethnic group reveals a predisposition to a particular disease or condition.
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