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photo Measuring Up
From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Should genetic testing decide who is to be born? Genetic testing is nothing new. Prenatal tests for Down syndrome, for example, have been available for almost forty years, and thousands of parents have been presented with the difficult choice of whether to terminate their pregnancy or to knowingly have a child with Down syndrome. With the unraveling of the human genome, however, we can expect that tests for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of additional genetic conditions may soon be available.

Adele Warner has Down syndrome, but her parents say they could not have made any other choice: "It's not a perfect world. You just can't throw away what you don't want, or what doesn't please you, or what you don't like. You have to play the hand you're dealt." Chris and Katrina Howell take the other side of the debate. After their first child was born with Cystic Fibrosis, they discovered that they are both carriers of the genetic mutation which causes CF. Though they are coping effectively with young Dakota's daily medical needs, they are not willing to have a second child with this serious respiratory disorder, and would instead choose to abort.

Jody Schuler has been tested for Huntington's disease, a brain disorder that usually strikes in midlife. She now knows that she carries the gene - as did her mother and grandmother — but is not letting it affect her life. She's getting married soon, and she and her husband do not plan to have prenatal genetic testing before having children. The choices these families and others are making are commented on by several ethicists and genetic scientists.

24 minutes
© 2003
Purchase $149.00 VHS
Order No. QA-402
ISBN (VHS) 1-57295-402-7
close captioned

Reviews
"Reflects upon an issue that will become more, not less, relevant with the new information becoming available. Both societal and individual perspectives are explored." Journal of Rehabilitation

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DNA: Discovering the Blueprint: Looks back at the astounding discovery, 50 years ago, of the structure of the genetic code, and recognizes the crucial but often unrecognized role played by a woman scientist, Rosalind Franklin.

DNA and Cystic Fibrosis: The stories of two teens with Cystic Fibrosis make the point that many of the medical breakthroughs seemingly promised by genetic science have yet to be achieved.

The Burden of Knowledge: Seven couples, healthcare and genetic specialists, and others explore the ethical and emotional implications of prenatal testing for genetic defects.

Deadly Inheritance: Examines the social and emotional issues involved in genetic testing, as it follows one family during their months-long wait for the results of the mother's test for Huntington's disease.

Banking Our Genes: Invites viewers to think about the ethical, public policy, and privacy issues involved in the collection and banking of DNA data about individuals.


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