Sep 7 2011
New pre-natal screening test makes eliminating all people with genetic disease an achievable reality [Excerpts]
‘Fetal DNA tests: Are we finally entering an era of eugenics?’ As an Ashkenazi Jew planning to have a baby, Fliesler sought prenatal screening for Tay-Sachs disease, an incurable and lethal condition.
But she asks, ‘What about diseases that don’t severely limit lifespan and aren’t that disabling?’
What should we screen for? Down’s syndrome? Genes associated with bowel or breast cancer? X chromosomes? Where do we draw the line?
Now, however, there is a new non-invasive test that is highly accurate for screening babies early in the first third of pregnancy. This test may mean that every pregnant woman will in the future be tested at an early stage in pregnancy and offered an abortion if their baby carries any genes (including a female chromosome!) that they find undesirable.
The Human Genetics Commission (HGC) [United Kingdom], a government advisory committee, has already given the green light to preconception genetic tests saying that there are no specific ‘social, ethical or legal’ reasons that stand in the way. The UK National Screening Committee will now consider this advice as it decides whether widespread screening should be introduced in GP surgeries, family planning centres, IVF clinics or pharmacies.
Our society’s increasing obsession with celebrity status, physical perfection and high intelligence fuels the view that the lives of people with disabilities or genetic diseases are somehow less worth living.
By contrast the Christian view is that the life of every human individual, regardless of its intelligence, beauty, state of health or degree of disability is infinitely precious. A just and caring society is one where the strong make sacrifices for the weak, or in the words of the Apostle Paul, ‘bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ’ (Galatians:6:2).
(“New pre-natal screening test makes eliminating all people with genetic disease an achievable reality,” Christian Medical Fellowship Online, August 16, 2011).