President’s Council on Bioethics Worries About Abortions on Disabled Babies

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 11, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

President’s Council on Bioethics Worries About Abortions on Disabled Babies

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 11
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The President’s Council on Bioethics held a meeting last week and members said they are concerned that the advancement of medicine is leading to tests showing disabilities in unborn children that may prompt abortions. Prenatal testing is leading to "eugenic" abortions, several members of the panel said.

The panel called the information gathered from such prenatal testing "toxic knowledge" because such a high percentage of pregnancies involving disabled babies end in abortion.

Dr. William Hurlbut, a biology professor at Stanford University, called such information "learning more than you want to or more than you can handle," according to a Catholic News Service report,

Hurlbut added that parents who find out their unborn children have a physical or mental disability can develop depression and psychiatric disorders. Some parents even consider suicide, he said, according to CNS.

He also said that prenatal testing paves the way for genetic thinking where people began trying to eliminate less than desirable traits in their family.

"It’s the flavor-of-the-month preference for what people can look like," he said.

Meanwhile, Nancy Wexler, clinical psychology professor at Columbia University in New York, gave a presentation on experiences as a carrier of the Huntington’s disease gene.

She said that she has been involved in creating guidelines that prenatal testing not be done unless the parents are considering an abortion, CNS reported. She said that miscarriages and congenital abnormalities can develop from the tests.

Members of the committee said the prenatal genetic testing may rob the unborn child of the rights to decide for themselves about their own health care when tested prenatally without their consent.

Wexler agreed and said that unborn children’s rights are violated "since a child thus born with the gene defect cannot elect not to take the test upon reaching majority."