, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 143-153
Date: 21 Aug 2009

Predictive Genetic Testing, Autonomy and Responsibility for Future Health

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Individual autonomy is a concept highly appreciated in modern Western societies. Its significance is reflected by the central importance and broad use of the model of informed consent in all fields of medicine. In predictive genetic testing, individual autonomy gains particular importance, for what is in focus here is not so much a concrete medical treatment but rather options for taking preventive measures and the influence that the test results have on long-term lifestyle and preferences. Based on an analysis of autonomy-related issues in predictive genetic diagnosis and genetic screening programmes, this contribution stresses the central relevance of a broad notion of autonomy for the discussion of ethical issues raised in connection with predictive genetic testing and genetic screening programmes. Only against the background of such a broad notion of autonomy, which stresses not only free and informed decision-making but also the relevance of long-term prospects for leading a self-determined life in familial and social contexts, can the manifold autonomy-related issues linked to predictive genetic testing be given adequate consideration.