Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dilemmas of Pre-natal testing

Margarte Somerville has a good article on pre-natal testing at MercatorNet.
Are we using pre-natal testing as part of a search-and-destroy mission for the disabled?

As harsh as the language is, we must ask ourselves: "Are we on a search-and-destroy mission to wipe out certain groups of people?" Widespread pre-natal screening will eliminate entire groups of people, for instance, those with Down syndrome, genetically linked mental illness such as bipolar disease, the profoundly deaf, and so on. The vast majority of people oppose screening for sex as unethical, except some would allow it for sex-linked diseases. And some gay people are concerned there could be screening for genes linked with homosexuality.
If we don't want genetically "disabled" children to be born, what are our reasons and justifications? Are those reasons and justifications ethically acceptable? What principles and values do they establish and affirm at a societal level?
And when there are no legal restrictions on abortion, we must also consider routinized pre-natal screening in that light. Is it ethically acceptable to abort, for instance, a Down syndrome child at eight months of gestation?

I have discussed the hidden agenda of pre-natal testing, which we prefer to call "Search-and-destroy" as proven by the statistics quoted here: "Pre-natal testing halves numbers of babies born with Down syndrome". I had erroneously attributed the rise in births of children with Down syndrome in Britain to more positive public image of children with Down syndrome, in this post, when it may simply be more diagnosed cases of Trisomy 21 than before, and the fact that women are beginning families much later. Sish.

In any event, new findings that the symptoms of Down syndrome may be either prevented or treated prenatally may make the search-and-destroy fostered by such organizations as March of Dimes unnecessary, as stated here:
Down's starves developing nerve cells of two key proteins, leading to problems with mental development.
But when US researchers injected the proteins into mice pregnant with "Down's" pups, the offspring seemed free of these problems.

Read the entire article in BBC News.
But will they stop funding research into such types of pre-natal diagnosis as ?

Alas, my experience in pro-life activism tells me that this life-saving news will receive far less press than the new diagnostic techniques. They even had the gall to try and advertise on my other blog, Cause of Our Joy. "Great news, now fewer disabled babies will be able to slip through the net". Society will be the loser when fewer children like my Christina are born. But will be have the spiritual intelligence to recognize it?


Alexandra said...

Wow, those new research findings are fascinating. I'm off to read about it. More of this type of research needs to be done.

Your daughter is so should out up her picture. Although I understand your need for privacy...she is just too cute, huggably so. :)

Alexandra said...

Oh, never mind, I see a family picture now. I've got you on a feed, so I don't click into your blog all the time.

Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

Which gives Christian pro-life journalists the big job of getting the good news out to those who need it the most!

L Fabjanska said...

Prenatal testing can also be of use for prenatal surgery. Spina bifida can be corrected in utero, for instance.