The medical examination in United States immigration applications: the potential use of genetic testing leads to heightened privacy concerns
Burroughs AM. Boston University, USA.
J Biolaw Bus. 2005;8(4):22-32.
ABSTRACTThe medical examination has been an integral part of the immigration application process since the passing of the Immigration Act of 1891. Failing the medical examination can result in denial of the application. Over the years the medical examination has been expanded to include questioning about diseases that are scientifically shown to be rooted in an individual's genetic makeup. Recent advances in the fields of genomics and bioinformatics are making accurate and precise screening for these conditions a reality. Government policymakers will soon be faced with decisions regarding whether or not to sanction the use of these newly-developed genetic tests in the immigration application procedure. The terror threat currently facing the United States may ultimately bolster the argument in favor of genetic testing and/or DNA collection of applicants. However, the possibility of a government mandate requiring genetic testing raises a host of ethical issues; including the threat of eugenics and privacy concerns. Genetic testing has the ability to uncover a wealth of sensitive medical information about an individual and currently there are no medical information privacy protections afforded to immigration applicants. This article examines the potential for genetic testing in the immigration application process and the ethical issues surrounding this testing. In particular, this article explores the existing framework of privacy protections afforded to individuals living in the United States and how this and newly-erected standards like those released by the Health and Human Services (HHS) might apply to individuals seeking to immigrate to the United States.Biohappiness
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