The Rise Of Autonomy

  • Dorothy C. Wertz
  • John C. Fletcher
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 17)


In the context of genetics, autonomy usually involves appeals to human rights: rights to know or not know information, rights to respect, rights to decide, rights to services, rights to referral, or rights to privacy. Among those with means in rich nations, autonomy may also mean frivolous consumerism, as people pick and choose among medical services of dubious necessity, or demand access to any service they desire and can pay for out of pocket. Originally the word meant independence or self-governance for a political entity, such as a city-state in ancient Greece (Gouldner, 1965). In countries influenced by the eighteenth century Enlightenment, the concept of autonomy became attached to individuals. Now the word autonomy applies mainly to individuals as separate, independent entities who own their genetic information and may even seek a share in intellectual property rights derived from it.


Down Syndrome Prenatal Diagnosis Spina Bifida Turner Syndrome Deaf Child 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dorothy C. Wertz
    • 1
  • John C. Fletcher
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Massachusetts Medical School and Shriver CenterWalthamUSA
  2. 2.University of Virginia School of MedicineCharlottesvilleUSA

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