A Controversial Theme of Genetic Engineering in My Sister’S Keeper

February 20, 2021 by Essay Writer

Genetic engineering, a highly debated and extremely controversial topic that is prevalent world-wide, is one of the many ethical themes present throughout the entirety of the movie My Sister’s Keeper. Also called genetic modification or genetic manipulation, the process of genetic engineering consists of manipulating an organism’s genes using biotechnology in order to change the genetic makeup of cells, ultimately with the intent of making that particular organism better in some way. In My Sisters Keeper, Kate, deathly ill and in desperate need of a marrow donor, and her younger sister Anna, a healthy young girl, had an unknowingly strange relationship. Anna was solely conceived to be a donor for her older sister Kate. From the moment she was born Anna was put through countless operations and medical procedures against her free will, conclusively altering her quality of life. This particular component of the movie constructed an ethical theme that spoke to me; genetic engineering.

With no other matches easily accessible to the Fitzgerald family, Kate’s parents made the decision to have another child through the process of genetic engineering. This process would manufacture a child from the mother and father’s genes that would be a perfect match for Kate’s needs. The development of the child goes like this: technicians can screen the multiple embryos that are typically produced with in vitro fertilization and choose those that have the desired genetic characteristics. The embryo selection procedure is known as preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). When most families that choose to produce a designer baby for someone that is gravely ill in their family, they typically only use umbilical cord blood of the tissue-matched newborn. In today’s society, there are no cases reported of a designer baby having to donate an organ, however, in the case of Anna and Kate, Anna was definitively instructed to give her sister with leukemia one of her kidneys; this is where another ethical theme of self-determination arises in the movie.

Anna refuses, and decides to seek out a lawyer to sue her parents for medical emancipation. This sets off a court case that threatens the Fitzgerald family relationship as a whole. Conclusively winning the court case against her parents for the rights to her own body, Anna does not have to give her sister Kate her kidney. Nevertheless, we do see multiple other operations imposed upon Anna throughout the course of the movie. We see Anna screaming and crying as she is placed upon a medical table, and moments later a bone marrow extraction performed on her. Other operations that we see implemented on Anna is frequent blood withdrawals to help keep Kate alive.

All in all, the overall premise of the movie My Sister’s Keeper constructs multiple ethical themes that threaten to disturb the morality of the viewers. Genetic engineering, the ethical theme that spoke to me most, was an unknowingly immoral decision presented to the Fitzgerald family that would affect the life of Anna Fitzgerald the moment she was born. From being poked and prodded with needles her whole life for blood withdrawals and painful bone marrow extractions, Anna, a thirteen year old child created in a lab in order to be a perfect matched tissue donor for her older sister who suffers from leukemia, was living an unfair life that was devised specifically to meet the harmful needs of her dying sister.


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