Family Law and the Genomic Revolution

12 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2011

See all articles by Andrew W. Torrance

Andrew W. Torrance

University of Kansas - School of Law

Date Written: December 1, 2010


The Genomic Revolution, gene patent law, and genetic alternation will have profound effects on the family and family law. Increasingly, the possibility exists of precisely genotyping offspring (or even gametes). The effects of this may be benign or they may be destructively negative. Either way, this technology has already begun to arrive, thereby stirring controversy. The availability or unavailability of human gene patents (and related patents, such as those claiming methods of medical diagnosis or treatment) could help determine whether the rate of genetic discovery and development increases or decreases. Finally, the potential to “repair,” or even enhance, the genetic complement of human beings at early stages of their lives could lead to parents hoping to cure their children or to a runaway genomic arms races wherein parents attempt to provide their children with affirmative advantages over their peers. Rapid advances in genetic technologies, such as the $1000 genome, gene diagnostic tests, personalized genomics, and gene therapy, coupled with the flux in the law of gene patents (and patents on related inventions), will ensure the substantial transformation of the legal milieu in which parents make reproductive choices. Family law will be transformed.

Keywords: Family law, genome, genomics, gene, DNA, child, parent, patent, genetic enhancement, medicine, diagnostic, therapeutic, gene therapy, synthetic biology, stem cell , intellectual property, enhancement, genetic enhancement

JEL Classification: I10, I12, I18, C11, J11, J13, J17, K11, K20, K23, K32, L43, L86, O30, O31, O32, O33, O34, O38, Z10

Suggested Citation

Torrance, Andrew W., Family Law and the Genomic Revolution (December 1, 2010). University of Missouri-Kansas City Law Review, Vol. 79, No. 2, pp. 271-282, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Andrew W. Torrance (Contact Author)

University of Kansas - School of Law ( email )

Green Hall
1535 W. 15th Street
Lawrence, KS 66045-7577
United States

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