Prenatal testing: kill off diseased babies for a healthier population

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Feb 17, 2010 4 Comments ›› Ben DuPré

Prenatal testing: kill off diseased babies for a healthier population

An Associated Press report released today starts off with great news:

Some of mankind’s most devastating inherited diseases appear to be declining, and a few have nearly disappeared . . . .

But the rest of the sentence contains the disturbing reason: “because more people are using genetic testing to decide whether to have children.” Thus begins an article, titled “Testing curbs some genetic diseases (http://hosted2 NULL.ap NULL.org/APDEFAULT/9fffc92b12934d78a492c6b3b18f1697/Article_2010-02-17-US-MED-Gene-Testing/id-pc6b349bab68549bd9d11a0556b150c80),” that only the most hard-hearted eugenicist would thoroughly enjoy reading.

Pregnant women are increasingly choosing to have their unborn babies tested for genetic disease such as cystic fibrosis or Tay-Sachs and, according to the article, “many end pregnancies when diseases are found.”  Moreover, “a growing number [of couples] are screening embryos and using only those without problem genes.”

The article then relates the stories of several couples, some of whom test their own genetic makeup to determine if they are more likely to pass along a genetic problem, but other couples explained why they “screened” embryos:

In the Canadian city of Vancouver, Jeff and Megan Carroll screened embryos to have two children free of the Huntington’s disease gene Jeff has. “I felt very strongly that I didn’t want to pass on this,” he said. Huntington’s “is done killing people in my family when I am gone.”

While Jeff’s concern for his children’s risk of sharing his disease is understandable, his remedy is not. If diseased embryos were killed in utero because they were not healthy enough for the Carrolls’ liking, then Jeff is technically correct that Huntington’s “is done killing people” in his family. Instead, he and his wife are the ones doing the killing of those in his family with Huntington’s.

As prenatal screening grows in popularity, so does aborting those babies considered too sick to be allowed to live:

In California, Kaiser Permanente, a large health maintenance organization, offered prenatal screening. From 2006 through 2008, 87 couples with cystic fibrosis mutations agreed to have fetuses tested, and 23 were found to have the disease. Sixteen of the 17 fetuses projected to have the severest type of disease were aborted, as were four of the six fetuses projected to have less severe disease.  Comparisons to couples not given prenatal screening suggested that screening had cut births of babies with severe disease in half, researchers reported at a genetics conference in 2008. Studies in Canada, Italy, Australia and in Europe also found that cases dropped after screening began.

The tenor of the article continues with the same general justification: look how much killing sick babies has lowered the numbers of diseased children!

This is akin to reporting that the AIDS rate is declining because doctors are increasingly killing their AIDS patients in their beds. Or reporting that the death rate from AIDS is decreasing because the patients are being executed instead.

Thankfully, some parents still value life even if that life has a risk of disease.

Beth Meese, the Cleveland nurse who discovered from prenatal tests that she and her husband are carriers, wishes they had been screened before pregnancy. By the time they learned of their risk, they had seen an ultrasound and decided to have the baby no matter what its tests showed.

“We saw the baby, saw it moving,” she said. “It makes that decision that much more difficult to make.”

It is always difficult for a parent to learn that their child is sick, or even has the potential for contracting a disease. But what should not be difficult is whether the child, sick or not, has the right to live.

For all the talk of lowering disease rates, though, what it boils down to is not that children are healthier, but that parents are killing their own to avoid the challenges of raising a child with disease (or even a higher-than-normal risk thereof).  According to Jeff Carroll, however, it’s “unconscionable” not to kill your sick babies:

Jeff Carroll, the Canadian who, with his wife, screened embryos because he carries the Huntington’s gene, said it is “unconscionable” to procreate without taking steps to prevent passing on the disease. “Having my test result has immensely improved my life. I was able to make reproduction decisions that ended HD in my family,” and to launch a career as a biologist researching the disease, he said.

Mr. Carroll, unfortunately, did not end Huntingdon’s in his family: he simply ended the lives of those with the disease so that his life could be “immensely improved.” That is unconscionable.

And what does it say about the lives of those born with genetic diseases? Is their right to life diminished because their health is?  If a 1-year-old was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and then “screened” (killed) would the AP try to justify that murder? Probably not (yet).

Prenatal screening as a scientific tool is, like a gas chamber, morally neutral.  But if the testing is used as a Malthusian human “weeder” to destroy young lives that the already-born consider undesirable, then we as a society are lowering disease and growing more “sick.”

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Comments

  1. Tijuanna Adetunji (http://www NULL.deardaughterseries NULL.com) says:

    From experience when making the “choice” to do such a thing as end the life of your unborn child you have to justify in your own mind why you’re doing it. You make yourself believe what you’re doing is okay then you list the reasons. If you look at the reasons they are full of the word “I” Anyone who says they are considering the baby is lying. Taking the life of my unborn child has by far been the most inconsiderate thing I’ve ever done.

    I later learned that what the Bible said is true, “The heart is deceitful above all things, who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9) But God.

  2. James E. Reeves says:

    After listening to health professionals research on gene mapping and analytical data being shared all over the world today, I believe we can change some illnesses before birth. Some are already harvesting the raw blood and after birth from childbirth for future use on treating blood cells malfunctions, or mutations. I see these advancements as “freedom science” or better stated “The advancement of studies in a culture of peace on earth good will to men.” The value of Christian thought in the hearts of citizens who are willing to fight for a constitution and stand for biblical truth has enabled the process of God’s restoring man-kind’s rightful purpose.
    What amount of enlightenment would you require today for proof that Jesus is allowing the restoration?
    What cross would have to be put on Him?
    Why can’t we see His Glory today?
    Can we see even in our embryos a glory to God’s handiwork?
    How wonderfully made !

  3. James E. Reeves says:

    “To Think or not to Think” That is the Question!

    When we read all the statements made by a person we all deemed so very smart,

    Like Wernher Von Braun; he talked about the Bible, and the evolutionary heart.

    He said “In this age of space flight, when we use the modern tools of science to advance into new regions of human activity, the Bible- this grandiose, stirring history of the gradual revelation and unfolding of the moral law – remains in every way an up to date book.”

    He challenged not to violate the very objectivity of the science axioms of proof

    But consider the honest alternative theories of our beginnings and the universe our roof.

    If Von Braun could have a meeting and say all these things that I am writing down

    Shouldn’t we take him serious as man of accomplishments and a man that’s very sound?

    “Manned space flight is an amazing achievement, but it has opened for mankind thus far only a tiny door for viewing the awesome reaches of space. An outlook through this peephole at the vast mysteries of the universe should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator.”

    By – James E Reeves

    Quotes; from “God and Country”

  4. Billbo says:

    It would be even more interesting if someone would track all those children who are “allowed to come into the world” that were, “diagnosed” as probable for going to carry the supposed genetic sickness?
    In other words, keep track of how many times they were WRONG, rather then just “assuming” they were always right?
    Judge, I’m going to look for those, but you may be more privy to where to look sooner? If you’re willing, would you please do so. When people realize that, even if they turned out wrong on say, only one out of 100, it drops their so called “do this for the the good o f society ideology” even more. It does because many, otherwise good people who would never consider abortion, are falling for this “trick” and if they knew it wasn’t fool proof, their numbers of participants would drop considerably.

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