Reproductive Technology and Genetics: Legal and Ethical Issues

Reproductive Technology and Genetics: Legal and Ethical Issues

Professor I. Glenn Cohen
Spring 2017 seminar
T 5:00pm - 7:00pm in WCC Room 3009
2 classroom credits

Prerequisites: None

Exam: No Exam. Evaluation will be by written work and participation.

Should individuals be able to sell reproductive materials like sperm and ova, or reproductive services like surrogacy? Should the law require individuals diagnosed with diseases like Huntington's diseases to disclose to family members that they too are at risk for the disease? Should prenatal sex selection be a crime? Should federal funds be used for stem cell research? Should law enforcement be able to bank DNA samples collected from suspects and perpetrators? Should doctors be able to patent cell lines developed from their patients' bodies?

Since Watson and Crick's discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953, and the 1978 birth of Louis Brown, the first child conceived through in vitro fertilization, pressing questions like these have propagated. In this course we will cut across doctrinal categories to examine how well the law and medical ethics have kept up, and plot directions for fruitful development. Topics covered may include: * Prenatal genetic screening and sex selection * Genetic enhancement * The sale of sperm and ova and access to reproductive technology * Surrogacy * Cloning * Preembryo disposition disputes * Wrongful birth, wrongful conception, and wrongful life torts * The parentage and anonymity of gamete donors. * Imposition of criminal liability on mothers and third parties for harm to fetuses * The use of genetic information by insurers and employers * The collection of genetic information by the state and the criminal justice system * Biobanking * Chimeras (human-animal hybrids) * The stem cell controversy * The patenting of genes and their derivatives * Research ethics issues involving fetuses and embryos * Pharmacogenomics and Race

Note: The course reading will consist primarily of law review, philosophy, and medical journal articles with a few cases mixed in. Students will be expected to participate and attend every session of the course. No prior background is necessary (certainly not a science background), but much of the reading will be philosophical in nature so students should be prepared for that (and to do some provided background reading in moral and political philosophy if they have not had exposure to these subjects before). Students should expect 60-100 pages of reading per week of the course.

Subject Areas: Health Law