Earlier Down Syndrome Test Causes Fears Over Increased Abortions

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 10, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Earlier Down Syndrome Test Causes Fears Over Increased Abortions Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
November 10, 2005

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A new study conducted on 38,000 women reveals a new screening test successfully can determine whether unborn children have Down syndrome and can do it earlier in pregnancy than before. But pro-life groups are worried that the first-trimester test will increase the number of cases when parents have an abortion of a child with the disability.

The study included American women and found that the screening method, which includes a blood test with an ultrasound exam, can determine whether babies have the condition at 11 weeks into the pregnancy.

"This is a big deal for women. It’s going to have a big impact on care for women, not just in the United States but throughout the world," Fergal Malone of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland told AP.

The results of the research are published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

However, pro-life groups worry that the screening of women earlier in pregnancy will result in an increase in the number of abortions. When the disability is determined late in pregnancy, it’s sometimes too late for an abortion to be performed.

Brian Skotko, a joint-degree student at Harvard Medical School and Harvard’s John. F. Kennedy School of Government has conducted a study on parents who find out their child has Down syndorme. He found that mothers of children with Down’s syndrome report their physicians as overwhelmingly negative during the pregnancy.

Doctors often advise an abortion or adoption, Skotko found, according to an ABC News report.

Approximately 5,000 babies are born annually with Down syndrome, which causes developmental and health problems.

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development funded the eight-year $15 million study on the new method of testing. Catherine Spong, who is affiliated with the group, hailed the results of the new study because the earlier tests would allow more women to consider abortions.