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McGill Law J. 2000 May;45(2):347-412.

Selective justice, genetic discrimination, and insurance: should we single out genes in our laws?

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Faculty of Law and Department of Medical Genetics and Microbiology, University of Toronto, Canada.


This article discusses the desirability of legislation focusing on genetic discrimination, in particular in the context of insurance. Many American states and some European countries as well as the Council of Europe have introduced protective measures against discrimination on the basis of genetic susceptibility. The author questions their effectiveness and queries whether they may be inequitable, because they fail to address more fundamental underlying issues related to the nature of insurance, access to health care, and unequal distribution of wealth. There is also a problem of definition in these statutes. They fail to capture what constitutes genetic information. Nonetheless, the author argues it is important to consider the social consequences of genetic testing. Michael Walzer's theory of justice is used to examine the role of insurance and health care. Using this approach, the author finds the American system of distribution for health care to be problematic. This is then used to inform the author's discussion of the future of health care in Canada. Anti-discrimination provisions could be used in a way that is consistent with Walzer's theory of justice. They would encompass both genetic and non-genetic health factors. These can be modelled on current anti-discrimination statutes in Canada. The author then proposes administrative committee structures to regulate the use of genetic data in Canada.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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