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Applying Ethical Theories to Genetic Counseling Practice 

Applying Ethical Theories to Genetic Counseling Practice
Chapter:
Applying Ethical Theories to Genetic Counseling Practice
Author(s):

Barbara B. Biesecker

, Kathryn F. Peters

, and Robert Resta

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190626426.003.0006
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date: 15 August 2020

Genetic counseling engenders thorny ethical issues that expand as genetic testing technology continues to evolve. Genetic counselors are frequently faced with bioethical dilemmas that, by their very nature, are not easily resolved. This chapter reviews some of the common ethical frameworks for considering ethically complex situations—deontology, casuistry, principilism, and feminist ethics. These ethical approaches are illustrated by applying them to a case of a mother who is a BRCA mutation carrier and is trying to make a decision about genetic testing for her fourteen-year-old daughter. No one ethical framework will be applicable to all genetic counseling dilemmas, but familiarity with these different approaches can help counselors better understand the value of each approach in assessing a variety of clinical situations. A model is presented showing how to manage, think about, and think through ethical dilemmas.

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