Commercially available prenatal tests will lead to more abortions

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” shot blog notes that a recent study in the British Medical Journal reported on “a simple blood test that was able to determine whether a fetus had Down syndrome”; and reports in Science Translational Medicine and Nature Precedings “demonstrated the technical ability to analyze thousands of genetic markers with as little as 10 milliliters of blood.”

Therefore, it is “time to start preparing ourselves for the medical and social ramifications … of non-invasive prenatal genetic diagnosis, or NIPD,” warns Hank Greely of the Stanford Law School in an editorial in the journal Nature.

He says NIPDs are “likely to become commercially available within the next five years”; and the degree to which they “become accepted by the medical establishment may hinge on whether they’re seen as ‘a way to save money by avoiding'” high-cost births.

Greely is understandably concerned about how some couples might use that information.

Why? It will almost certainly lead to more abortions.

In China and India, for instance, greater access to inexpensive ultrasound testing has produced a “dramatic skewing of live-birth sex ratios,” Greely writes. Prenatal paternity testing could also result in more pregnancy terminations.

In addition, a report from Spain has horrified many when it revealed that abortion is being used for eugenic purposes to eliminate the “unfit,” specifically children with Down’s syndrome.

In fact, as I discussed in a recent blog, recent statistics show that almost 95% of Spanish babies diagnosed with Down’s syndrome are aborted.

Since many believe that these statistics are likely similar here in America, the truth is that this “simpler” test may, in fact, lead to the deaths of many unborn children via abortion.

But, there are even more ominious possibilities that this test will bring us – for the test can also give the gender of an unborn child as early as seven weeks gestation – five weeks earlier than current tests.

Therefore, it’s reasonable to predict that some parents will use this test as a way of selecting the sex of their child, simply aborting an unborn child that they find “unsuitable.”

In addition, I’m also concerned that if this test is given to all pregnant women, as it likely will be, that many moms will simply not be prepared for results that show the presence of serious diseases, which could put them under pressure to have an abortion they almost certainly will regret – an abortion that not only kills the unborn child, but is likely to lead to mental health problems for the unsuspecting mother.

Down’s syndrome, which causes mental retardation and other problems, is caused when a child has three copies instead of the normal two of chromosome 21 – and has been powerfully brought to the national spotlight with the beautiful infant son of Governor Sarah and Todd Palin.

My experience, having cared for many families with a child with Down’s Syndrome and without exception these children have been an amazing blessing for their families. Furthermore, I find most of these children have a spiritual sensitivity and a special relationship with God.

So what’s my prediction? Quite simply, these test, if and when they become available, will result in increased abortions. About that, I’m truly sad … not only for the babies that will be lost, but for our country.

Enter your email to subscribe to Dr. Walt's blogs.

You have successfully subscribed to the newsletter

There was an error while trying to send your request. Please try again.

Dr. Walt Larimore will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.