Molt Be Blog

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Uh oh

Down Syndrome Now Detectable In 1st Trimester
Earlier Diagnosis Allows More Time for Decisions

A first-trimester screening test can reliably identify fetuses likely to be born with Down syndrome, providing expectant women with that information much earlier in a pregnancy than current testing allows, according to a major study being released today.
Screening women before the second trimester allows those who might opt to terminate a pregnancy to make that decision when doctors say an abortion is safer and less traumatic. It also gives those who want to continue the pregnancy more time to prepare emotionally for their child's condition, and provides earlier reassurance to those whose babies are healthy, avoiding weeks of anxiety, Malone and others said.
But Gene Rudd of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations said he was concerned that women are not always fully advised about the risks of prenatal testing, and that screening could be used to try to eliminate babies with Down syndrome.
"What's the goal here? Is it to rid our society of Down babies? If that is the goal, I really have to question the civility of that," Rudd said. "The overwhelming number of people with Down will tell you their life is good."

I'm not sure where I stand on this issue on the whole, but I think the results of this study will really only make things safer for everyone involved. I doubt that this will lead to an increase in the number of abortions, as those that would abort would probably have done so after testing in the 2nd trimester anyway. What will happen is that early detection will lead to a safer overall procedure.
The scary part is how far people would start to take this. Would we start aborting babies after detecting their thick eyebrows or high-chances for pre-mature balding? I guess one just has to trust in human nature to draw some kind of line of when it's ok to abort after a genetic test and when it's just being ridiculous.
Crap. I just read the last two paragraphs of the article and realized it said what I said:
Malone and others, however, said they doubted the approach would result in more abortions.
"Most women are probably going to make the same decision now as before. If she decides to terminate the pregnancy, this just makes it safer and maximizes her privacy and confidentiality," Malone said.

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