Pro-life groups in the UK are voicing their concern about a new pregnancy screening test that is being touted by health officials as safer and more accurate for families.
British pro-life group LIFE warns that the test may not be safe for the unborn babies who test positive for a genetic disorder such as Down syndrome.
“We must remember that when we say screening, we are screening for something: abnormality, disability and imperfection,” LIFE’s Director of Education Anne Scanlan said. “Whilst this may prepare some couples for the prospect of raising a child with a disability, we currently live in a society which aborts 90% of children with Down’s Syndrome in the womb.”
The UK National Screening Committee recently began promoting the new non-invasive prenatal blood test (NIPT) as a safer alternative to invasive screening procedures such as amniocentesis, which invade the womb and can threaten the unborn child’s life. Doctors say the NIPT also is cheaper than amniocentesis.
The BBC reports that the test works by analyzing fragments of the unborn baby’s DNA in the mother’s blood. Women can be given the test when they are 11 to 14 weeks pregnant.
“If the test is positive, doctors will still recommend an amniocentesis, but the invasive procedure will become unnecessary for the majority of women,” according to the report.
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Health authorities believe the new test will save the lives of babies who otherwise could have died as a result of amniocentesis, but LIFE organizers believe the new test threatens more lives than it will save.
It is estimated that the NIPT screening, also known as known as cfDNA testing, will prevent 25 miscarriages a year that are associated with more invasive amniocentesis tests, according to the pro-life group.
“The RAPID study projects that 102 more children with Down’s Syndrome will be detected and therefore we can expect an additional 92 abortions of babies with Down’s Syndrome every single year,” Scanlan said. “Based on current figures, this will see a 13% reduction of live births of children with Down’s Syndrome annually.”
“The message being sent by the NSC is that the lives of 25 ‘healthy’ babies are worth more than the lives of 92 babies with Down’s Syndrome,” Scanlan added.
Professor Lyn Chitty, who tested the NIPT in clinical trials, confirmed pro-life advocates’ concerns that the test “might” lead to an increase in abortions; but she added that her study showed “many are using it to prepare for the birth of a baby with Down’s syndrome,” according to the news report.
Scanlan’s pro-life group is calling on the government to halt the introduction of the test, saying it will make the eugenic targeting of unborn babies with Down syndrome even worse.
“Children with and without disabilities have equal inherent dignity, worth and value, and we therefore fully support the ‘Don’t Screen Us Out’ campaign run by a coalition of Down’s Syndrome advocacy groups,” Scanlan said. “The campaign is calling on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to halt the implementation of cfDNA screening and to introduce much needed support to parents and families expecting a child with a foetal abnormality in order for the UK to fulfill its obligations to the UN Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities.”
The number of British babies with Down syndrome who are aborted already is extremely high. Researchers estimate that 92 percent of unborn babies who test positive for Down syndrome are aborted in the UK.
Cora Sherlock reported more details to LifeNews in 2014:
In the latest controversy surrounding abortion law in the UK, a report for the British Department of Health has revealed that 50% of all babies aborted because they have Down’s Syndrome are not being recorded in the appropriate official records as required under the 1967 Abortion Act.
Of 994 abortions carried out because the unborn baby was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome in England and Wales in 2012, only 496 of these had been notified to the British Department of Health. 11 of the abortions that were not recorded were carried out after 24 weeks’ gestation – the time after which a baby can survive outside the womb.
Commenting on the revelations for the Pro Life Campaign, Dr. Ruth Cullen said: “This story highlights in a very stark way the total disregard for human life that exists once abortion becomes legal. Abortion is legal in Britain, up to birth, in situations where a baby is diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome.”