In 1956 Pauling touched on a subject that he would promote for the next fifteen years – genetic counseling for carriers of
molecular diseases. In order to convey the chances that a couple would have an unhealthy child, Pauling often explained the
possible genetic make-up of an offspring between two heterozygotes. "When two of the heterozygotes, the carriers of the sickle-cell-anemia
gene, marry, one-quarter of their children may be expected to have the disease sickle-cell-anemia, one-quarter to be normal,
and one-half to be carriers like the parents."
Pauling advocated acknowledgment and action by carriers of genetic defects. He suggested genetic counseling for prospective
carriers as a way to stop the spread of molecular diseases and minimize human suffering. Specifically, Pauling proposed that
carriers of a hereditary disease should avoid marrying another carrier and that couples as prospective parents should consider
whether or not to have children. Although people could be tested for sickling hemoglobin, at this time no test existed that
could determine whether a person was a carrier of phenylketonuria.
Other scientists, who promoted counseling during the 1950s, invoked the same arguments as Pauling. One method of prevention
that Pauling encouraged was the universal introduction of birth control.
Click images to enlarge
Ava Helen and Linus Pauling standing next to a large chemical model. [the alpha-helix?], 1963.
Illustration from Medical World News article, "Sickle Cell Anemia" December 3, 1971.
"As more and more tests for heterozygosity are developed, predictions can be made with greater and greater reliability about
the probability of birth of defective children, and advice can be given to prospective spouses or parents about the desirability
of their contributing to the welfare of the human race as a whole by preventing the transmissions of seriously defective genes
to the next generation."