Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 83–95

Genetics and bioethics: How our thinking has changed since 1969


DOI: 10.1007/s11017-012-9210-8

Cite this article as:
Walters, L. Theor Med Bioeth (2012) 33: 83. doi:10.1007/s11017-012-9210-8


In 1969, the field of human genetics was in its infancy. Amniocentesis was a new technique for prenatal diagnosis, and a newborn genetic screening program had been established in one state. There were also concerns about the potential hazards of genetic engineering. A research group at the Hastings Center and Paul Ramsey pioneered in the discussion of genetics and bioethics. Two principal techniques have emerged as being of enduring importance: human gene transfer research and genetic testing and screening. This essay tracks the development and use of these techniques and considers the ethical issues that they raise.


GeneticsGene therapyGene transferPrenatal diagnosisGenetic testingGenetic screeningGenetic engineeringIn vitro fertilization

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Professor Emeritus, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Department of PhilosophyGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Joseph and Rose Kennedy Institute of EthicsGeorgetown UniversityWashingtonUSA