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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1552047
 
 

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Human Rights and Genetic Discrimination: Protecting Genomics’ Promise for Public Health


Michael Ashley Stein


William & Mary Law School; Harvard Law School

Anita Silvers


San Francisco State University - Department of Philosophy

February, 12 2010

The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Vol. 31, No. 377, 2003
William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-40

Abstract:     
We argue in this article for a much broader approach, an equality-based protection similar to the bans against race and sex discrimination. In doing so, we identify some problems that have made current prohibitions against disability discrimination less effective than was originally hoped, and we show that the prevailing approach to protection against genetic discrimination is subject to a similar weakness. In particular, we show that neither existing federal law banning disability discrimination nor proposed federal genetic discrimination law protects asymptomatic individuals with genetic anomalies who pursue prophylactic or mitigating measures. The diseases associated with these anomalies may never be expressed or, if expressed, may not manifest as unmitigatable functional impairments. Yet genetic anomalies may be used as proxies to disqualify their possessors from opportunity, as biological properties associated with race and female sex have been used in the past. We therefore advocate a novel civil rights paradigm that safeguards individuals from being discriminated against on the basis of genetic identity, as they now are protected from discrimination based on their identities in respect to race and sex.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 39

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Date posted: February 14, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Stein, Michael Ashley and Silvers, Anita, Human Rights and Genetic Discrimination: Protecting Genomics’ Promise for Public Health (February, 12 2010). The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Vol. 31, No. 377, 2003 ; William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-40. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1552047 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1552047

Contact Information

Michael Ashley Stein (Contact Author)
William & Mary Law School ( email )
South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States
(757) 221-3762 (Phone)
Harvard Law School ( email )
1563 Massachussetts Avenue
Pound Hall 423
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-1726 (Phone)
Anita Silvers
San Francisco State University - Department of Philosophy ( email )
1600 Holloway Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94132
United States
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