Dr Andrew McGee on the therapy and enhancement distinction in regulating germline genome editing

Dr Andrew McGee, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, has delivered a thought provoking new paper on the importance of the therapy v enhancement distinction in regulation germline genome editing. This paper has now been published in the leading bioethics journal.

Dr Andrew McGee

Dr Andrew McGee

In a first major study, the UK’s Royal Society found that 76% of people in the UK are in favour of therapeutic germline genomic editing to correct genetic diseases in human embryos, but found there was little appetite for germline genomic editing for non-therapeutic purposes. Assuming the UK (and other governments) acted on these findings, can lawmakers and policymakers coherently regulate the use of biomedical innovations by permitting their use for therapeutic purposes but prohibiting their use for enhancement purposes?

In his paper, Andrew examines the very common claim that the therapy v enhancement distinction does little meaningful work in helping us think through the ethical issues. This claim has significant implications for lawmakers and policymakers who may wish to regulate genomic editing techniques to reflect the findings of this important study.

You can read Andrew’s paper, Using the therapy and enhancement distinction in law and policy, in the bioethics journal.

About Andrew McGee

Andrew is an Associate Professor in the School of Law and is an active member of the Australian Centre for Health Law Research. He has published articles in leading international medical law and ethics journals on palliative care, withholding and withdrawing life-prolonging measures and euthanasia, organ donation, and the ethics of abortion.

You can learn more about Andrew and his research and publications in his staff profile.

Alex Deagon on the necessity and means of protecting institutional religious freedom

Institutional religious freedom is not absolute, but what kind of specific rights or exemptions should exist?

Senior Lecturer Dr Alex Deagon contends that the religious freedom of institutions is a cornerstone of democracy and must be protected, and he discusses this in a blog published as part of a ‘Real-World Approaches: Freedom of Religion or Belief’ series on the ‘Religion and Global Society’ blog for the London School of Economics.

Far from being a threat to liberal democratic states, Alex argues that protecting religious associations preserves the development of the structures, processes and content necessary for the progress of democracy.

Alex explains that “democracy requires the nurture of diverse voices that inform public understanding of human advancement and the common good, and it is precisely within such faith and other communities that people can develop, nourish and deploy their voice.”

“Religious institutions need the space to independently form and develop unique perspectives which they can contribute to public discourse.”

You can read Alex’s blog post, The Democratic Imperative: On the Necessity and Means of Protecting Institutional Religious Freedom, on the Religion and Global Society blog.

About Alex Deagon

Alex’s expertise includes theories of law, law and theology, and freedom of religion, and his research has been published in many prestigious national and international journals.

You can learn more about Alex and his research and publications in his staff profile.

Genetic Discrimination in Australia: A Timely Reappraisal

Professor Margaret Otlowski joined the Queensland Genomics Health Alliance and the Australian Centre for Health Law Research to deliver a public lecture on the risk of genetic discrimination in life insurance policies.

(L-R) Professor Belinda Bennett, QUT, Mr David Bunker, QGHA, Professor Margaret Otlowski, University of Tasmania

Professor Otlowski is a Professor of Law and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Law and Genetics at the University of Tasmania. She was the Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Tasmania from 2010 to 2017 and was appointed as the University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Culture and Wellbeing) in August 2017.

Professor Belinda Bennett, Professor of Health Law and New Technologies at the QUT Faculty of Law, welcomed guests to the lecture alongside Mr David Bunker, Executive Director of the Queensland Genomics Health Alliance (QGHA). David spoke briefly about QGHA’s mission, objectives and the research programs it supports.

The lecture, ‘Genetic Discrimination in Australia: A Timely Reappraisal’ is part of a program of work funded by QGHA in which leading researchers at QUTQIMR Berghofer Medical Research InstituteUniversity of Queensland, and other institutions are working on the ethical, legal and social implications (ELSI) of genomics.

Professor Margaret Otlowski presenting ‘Genetic Discrimination in Australia: A Timely Reappraisal’

In her lecture Professor Otlowski reviewed the recent Commonwealth Inquiry into the life insurance industry which recommended the introduction of a moratorium on the use of genetic information for underwriting in life insurance. She discussed evidence that the fear of genetic discrimination is inhibiting the uptake of genetic testing in clinical and research settings. Professor Otlowski argued in favour of implementing the inquiry’s recommendations in order to help reassure patients, their families, clinicians and researchers that genetic testing will not have a negative impact on future applications for life insurance.

‘Professor Otlowski’s lecture highlights the importance of considering the ethical and legal dimensions of genomic medicine,’ said Professor Bennett, QUT Faculty of Law.

For further information about the QGHA, visit their website.