Does Prenatal Genetic Testing Lead To Unnecessary Abortions?

Genetic testing is a double edged sword. On the one hand, this type of testing can shed light on diseases such as cancer, bringing knowledge to help in the battle to find a cure. One study by the Institute of Cancer Research found genetic testing to be greatly helpful with early detection and treatment of bowel cancer.

So while certain types of genetic testing are undeniably beneficial, there are others that are questionable, at best. Let’s talk about prenatal genetic testing to determine if a fetus is “at risk” for developing a disease carried by his parents.

We all want our children born healthy. I don’t think there’s one person on this earth who wishes to give birth to a child with physical or developmental disabilities. But things happen. We roll with the punches and deal with it as best we can.

Carrier screenings are a type of genetic testing that check parents for a multitude of rare diseases. Some companies that perform this kind of genetic testing, such as Counsyl Inc. in San Francisco, are marketing these tests for everyone. Does that sound like a good idea? Sure, for couples planning to conceive and who have a family history of illness. Not so much for a woman who is already pregnant. What would you do if you found out you and your spouse were both carriers of the same disease? Would that information be enough to lead you to end the pregnancy on the chance your baby may not be born perfect?

These companies claim widespread genetic testing will reduce the amount of babies born with a serious illness. In my opinion, it will only reduce the amount of babies born. Period.

As reported by Wall Street Journal, Dr. Nancy Rose, director of reproductive genetics at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, Utah, is not so sure that genetic testing for everyone is beneficial. Also chairwoman of the Committee on Genetics for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, otherwise known as ACOG, Dr. Rose goes on to note that although tests frequently find genetic variations in parents, they aren’t likely to affect the baby.

The majority of diseases targeted by carrier screenings must have genetic variations present in both parents for the child to be at risk for inheriting the illness, which is a very rare occurrence.

Even mainstream prenatal testing is not 100 percent accurate. I have personally seen both sides. I was told my oldest may have a serious condition due to a sonogram report, but she was healthy and thriving. On the flip side, my youngest developed a serious illness shortly after birth, which could have been prevented, but the prenatal test yielded the wrong result. He now has physical and developmental disabilities — but he is the light of my life, and I’ve learned so much from him.

Prenatal genetic testing puts decisions in our hands that are better left to God. Will many healthy children be aborted on the off chance that they may develop a disease? Illness can happen at any point in life. What is your opinion on genetic testing, prenatal or otherwise?

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