Non-invasive prenatal testing: Special interest groups vs women’s autonomy

Lars H Breimer

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2020.069


Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) is moving the goalposts for the detection of genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome (DS). NIPT not only misses fewer cases than first trimester combined screening, but also has fewer false positive results. Unlike with neural tube defect (NTD) where screening to detect affected pregnancies was welcomed, NIPT for trisomy has met with surprising resistance. This paper argues that special interest groups have been allowed to usurp influence beyond what is balanced in the discussions, at the expense of the fight against sex selection. The fear of parents of children with DS, that their children’s rights might be devalued, must not trump the autonomy of pregnant women to decide what is best for their own family and what they can cope with emotionally and financially. Society, however, must ensure that resources for caring for those with DS and other disabilities remain adequate. Here, recent articles are also reviewed.

Keywords: NIPT, prenatal testing, Down Syndrome, trisomy, autonomy of pregnant women, children’s rights

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