Input sought from Detroit minorities on genetic technology

January 8, 1997
Contact: umichnews@umich.edu

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan School of Public Health is seeking African Americans and other minorities in the Detroit area to share their opinions in a forum on genetic technology, reproductive choices, personal values and public policy. The group’s objective is to help develop a government and health care policy with regard to the appropriate uses of genetics technology.

The weekly forums will be held every Thursday, 7-9 p.m., Jan. 23-Feb. 27 at the Ward Conference Center, University of Detroit-Mercy, 8200 W. Outer Drive. People who are interested in joining the forum are urged to call Project Administrator Nancy Anderson at (313) 936-1226.

“Ready or not, genetic technology is about to revolutionize medical care in the United States. Before a child is born or even conceived, parents will have the option of determining its sex or deciding whether to conceive or give birth to a child who might develop Huntington’s disease or sickle cell anemia,” said Toby Citrin, director of the project and of the School’s Office of Community-Based Public Health.

“The policy implications are enormous and society must plan ahead. Legislators need grassroots input now from a wide range of communities and from minority communities in particular,” he said.

Typical scenarios for discussion might include:

–A mother on welfare decides to have a baby she knows will have a genetic disease. Should the government continue welfare payments? Should private insurers be allow to eliminate coverage?

–Genetic testing shows that you carry a gene for a fatal or debilitating disease. Should your spouse have automatic access to the test results? Your insurance company? Your employer?

–While testing for a disease, a doctor can also test for a tendency to be fat, extremely short or gay. Should such testing be done?

Detroit is one of seven cities in the project. The others are Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti, Grand Rapids, Holland, Kalamazoo, Lansing and Saginaw/Bay City.

Phone: (734) 764-7260

Ward Conference Center