The Medicalization Of CRISPR/Cas Gene Editing As It Applies To Reproductive Autonomy
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CRISPR/Cas is a bacterial defense system whose application to gene editing was discovered in 2014. As indicated by the growing amount of research, this technology has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of genetically inherited diseases. But with it comes unique ethical dilemmas. At its core, gene modification is a eugenic practice, which many associate with the Nazi regime and sterilization practices performed throughout the mid-twentieth century. This raises valid concerns about autonomy and its reconciliation with state interference. And the question is even more complex when we consider the use of gene editing to produce so-called designer babies. With the entrance of gene modification technology into medicine, what are the implications for reproductive autonomy? After introducing the CRISPR/Cas mechanism, I will discuss the concept of medicalization and the development of reproductive technologies. This will lead into a discussion of eugenics and the distinction between treatment and enhancement, which will serve as an introduction to a larger analysis of autonomy. The conclusions drawn in this section will then be applied to regulatory and policymaking suggestions. I will end the paper with a discussion of the feminist critique of autonomy and its implications for informed consent.