The real genetic discrimination no one is talking about



April 4, 2017
Something unusual happened in Parliament last month. More than 100 Liberal MPs defied their leader, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and voted in favour of a bill that had originated in the Senate. Bill S-201 would disallow what’s called “genetic profiling”. ARPA’s Director of Law and Policy, André Schutten, says the goal is to make sure that genetic testing can’t be required in applications for employment or life insurance policies. He says under this law, “a life insurance policy, or a health policy, or an employment contract cannot be jeopardized by someone having knowledge of their own genetic testing which may or may not contain information that would jeopardize their life or their health or their employment.”

While the bill passed, Schutten says the entire episode is rife with irony when considered in the broader context. “The talking point was that people ought not to be discriminated against based on their genetic information which, in a sense, I agree with. But right in front of our eyes, there is a much greater form of genetic discrimination; in fact, a lethal form of genetic discrimination. And that is for people with Down’s syndrome.” He says unborn children with Down’s syndrome are being discriminated against in a “brutal and lethal way” because they’re being eliminated through abortion. “For all the good that (Bill S-201) did, it completely misses this glaring form of genetic discrimination.”

Schutten says the government may be “patting itself on the back for being ‘human rights warriors’, (but) I’m calling them out on it.”

Andre has written a blog piece on the issue, which you can access here.

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