Journalist explains the perils and ethical dilemmas of DNA tests
, 2022-10-07 10:50:08,
Years after Hillel the Elder, René Descartes and Jean Valjean each famously articulated an existential search for self, journalist Libby Copeland told members of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh about a modern version of that quest.
Speaking by Zoom from New York, Copeland described her reporting on home genetic testing.
As a journalist who formerly covered technology and culture at The Washington Post, Copeland discovered numerous tales of people who swabbed their cheeks or spit in a tube, only to send the samples away without giving thought to the life-changing ramifications of unearthing genetic truths.
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Copeland followed a particularly prominent case concerning Alice Collins Plebuch — a woman, who, thanks to a DNA test, discovered her father was unknowingly switched at birth.
Plebuch’s story — and the ethical implications raised by home genetic testing — became the seed for Copeland’s 2020 book “The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Upending Who We Are.”
“The Lost Family” was inspired by questions surrounding a test’s aftermath and the effects genetic tests can have on intergenerational relationships, Copeland said.
Though her book explores the larger topic of home genetic testing, Copeland dedicated much of her Oct. 7 Zoom talk to sharing several specific…
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