chapter  6
34 Pages

The Politics of Genetics and Public Health

In addition to the potential for discrimination, mandatory genetic regulation ofTourette's threatens the very promises ofpersonal autonomy, freedom, and responsibility guaranteed in a democratic society. If society believes that genetics is a reliable indicator of behavior and treats individuals differently according to their genetic predispositions, then the issue of personal responsibility is eradicated. Criminal defendants rnay soon be able to introduce evidence showing a deficiency of serotonin in their brains, biologically predisposing them toward violent behavior, which could be used to mitigate punishment. (Yen 2003, 53)

The closest to an accepted definition of public healthwas provided by the Institute of Medicine (10 M) : "what we as a society do collectively to assure the conditions in which people can be healthy" (Institute of Medicine 1988, I). The 10M also described the three core functions of public health as assessment, policy development, and assurance. Within those core functions are ten essential services (Table 6.1) .