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Priced Out?

Genetic diseases today affect people all across the socioeconomic spectrum, but in some future scenarios, they may become more prevalent among poor people, Gizmodo writes.

Prenatal genetic diagnoses can identify an increasing number of conditions and parents-to-be can either prepare themselves for caring for a child with a genetic condition or can terminate the pregnancy. But, Gizmodo notes, such testing without insurance coverage can cost between a few hundred to thousands of dollars. It, then, is only available to those with means. It further says that if genome editing becomes legal, it, too, will likely have a high price tag.

Then, as Laura Hercher, a genetic counselor and professor at Sarah Lawrence College, tells Gizmodo, over generations, genetic disease could become a disease of poverty. "Restricting access to prenatal testing threatens to turn existing inequalities in our society into something biological and permanent," Hercher says. She recently wrote about the issue in Genome magazine.

The Hastings Institute's Josephine Johnston says they only way to prevent genetic diseases from become diseases of poverty is to provide equal access to healthcare services. "People have to have access to healthcare services, and [genetic testing] needs to be part of what those services include," she tells Gizmodo.