New Prenatal Test Has Same Concerns About Prompting Abortion

Bioethics   |   Rebecca Taylor   |   Feb 28, 2012   |   11:33AM   |   Washington, DC

The new non-invasive prenatal test is back in the news. Unlike amniocentesis, or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) each with a risk of miscarriage, this new method finds fragments of the fetal DNA in the mother’s blood. And it can be performed as early as 10 weeks.

This test is not the same as a serum test often called a quad-screen or AFP. This is a test that actually tests minute quantities of the fetus’ DNA in a maternal blood sample. So prenatal genetic testing is likely to go from invasive procedures like amniocentesis and CVS to a simple blood test with no risk to the life of the fetus.

In a perfect world, this should be good news. A safe way to look into the womb at the life growing inside. A way to, in the future, diagnose and treat genetic disease earlier.

But we do not live in a perfect world. Instead, we have abortion on demand. Which means the information provided by this new technology can be used in a seek-and-destroy mission against any life in the womb with a genetic disease or disability.

The San Jose Mercury News reports about a company in Redwood City that will be the next to offer this kind of prenatal testing:

Raising the prospect of a world without birth defects, a Stanford-created blood test that can detect Down syndrome and two other major genetic defects very early in a woman’s pregnancy will be available next week.

The simple blood test spares women the risk and heartache of later and more invasive tests like amniocentesis.

But it has startling social implications — heralding a not-distant future when many fetal traits, from deadly disease to hair color, are known promptly after conception when abortion is safer and simpler.

The $1,200 test, which analyzes fetal DNA in a mother who is 10 weeks pregnant, is being offered to doctors March 1 by Verinata Health, a biotechnology company in Redwood City. It licensed a technique designed by Stanford biophysicist Stephen Quake.

“It’s a game changer,” said Stanford University law professor Hank Greely, who studies the legal and ethical implications of emerging technologies. The controversy over abortion “is about to be hit by a tsunami of new science.”

Now let us be clear. The first words of this piece contain the most ubiquitous and disingenuous slight of hand when it comes to eugenic abortion. It says, “Raising the prospect of a world without birth defects.” The suggestion is that prenatal testing, in conjunction with abortion, eliminates genetic defects. Yet, in reality the genetic defect still exists; it is the people with the genetic defect that are eliminated.

Somewhere the paradigm shifted. Medicine used to treat the disease or disability. Now the focus is on making sure no one with disease or disability is born.

And to add insult to injury, this is called compassion. Parents who get a less than perfect prenatal diagnosis are told they need to abort their child because that is the unselfish, compassionate thing to do.

This is a dangerous trend that will continue to make the lives of those with disease and disability worse. The widespread abortion of girls in Asia has created a society where women are devalued and face more discrimination. In the West, this push to make sure that anyone with any kind of disease or disability never makes it out of the womb will have devastating consequences for those with special needs.

A Special Mother is Born is a fantastic compilation of stories from parents of special needs children full of hope, love and faith. It is also a catalog of mistreatment by medical professionals and others in society who do not understand why these children even exist.

In and of itself, I am not against prenatal testing. I believe it to be an important tool to learn about and treat life inside the womb. But where abortion exists, prenatal testing can turn deadly and create a world where those that are less-than-perfect need to justify their existence.

There was another society that thought the way to deal with disease and disability was to eliminate those that had them They also believed it was the compassionate thing to do. Their leader Adolf Hitler praised the ancient Spartan practice of disposing of any weak or deformed babies as the compassionate way to deal with them. Hitler wrote:

The exposure of the sick, weak, deformed children, in short, their destruction, was more decent and in truth a thousand times more humane than the wretched insanity of our day which preserves the most pathological subject, and indeed at any price, and yet takes the life of a hundred thousand healthy children in consequence of birth control or through abortions, in order subsequently to breed a race of degenerates burdened with illnesses.

Let us not forget where that line of thinking ended.