Manipulation of the Human Genome

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MON 7:00 - 10:00 pm TNH 3.115


Manipulation of the Human Genome: Legal and Moral Issues Professor Benjamin Gregg, Department of Government, UT-Austin DESCRIPTION: Technological developments in the genetic manipulation of the human embryo poses pressing questions about possible rights that American law will need to address. The unprecedented nature of these questions, and the potential for conflicting rights-claims, mark one difficulty of the task. For example, should parents have a legal right to determine what, in their opinion, will be the “best” genetic inheritance for the lives of their children? Or does a person not yet born (if that is even the legally apposite designation) have a legal right to be free of irreversible genetic enhancement desired by his or her parents? Indeed, is choice (of parents, of unborn life) even the best way to conceptualize the issue rather than, say, as risk (to health, the environment), as property rights (of the parents of an embryo, of the embryo to its DNA), or as legal personhood (at various stages of biological development prior to an unmistakable human being)? The seminar addresses some of the key non-legal questions that might provide a basis for a future jurisprudence of genetic enhancement. And it examines possible starting points in extant case law. ASSIGNED READINGS: Packet EVALUATION: Four analytic essays, each 5-6 pages, spaced at regular intervals over the semester.

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