Will Prenatal Testing Increase Abortions?

Last week the an AP article highlighted possible new methods of prenatal genetic testing, speculating on the effect these might have on pregnancy. Upon reading this, “Sophia,” a writer for the Abortion Gang blog, reflected:

Genetic testing, now and in the future, is an issue that is worth consideration and public acknowledgement, but getting lost down the rabbit hole of spooky unknowns is a waste of time and distorts the reality of women today.

But are fears about genetic testing leading to abortion for the creation of “perfect” children really going down the rabbit hole? Are these fears something we ought not worry about yet based on the “reality of women today”?

Blogger Complains about Implicit Attack on Abortion Rights

Here’s the part of Sophia’s post that most struck me:

Marcy Darnovsky suggests that parents will now decide what fetus will or will not be good enough to be born. “This really changes the experience of what it will be like to be pregnant and have a child,” she says. “I keep coming up with the word game-changer.”

Whether genetic testing to predict cancer and sexuality is going to change the experience of being pregnant, I don’t know. Neither do I know if the prospect of wide genetic testing in such a non-invasive way is indeed going to be a game-changer. Because when I read articles like this, I immediately think of the warnings in grade school, “take one try of marijuana and you’ve opened the flood gates to every other sordid drug in the world. You’re on a one way trip to misery if you try it.”  Because it’s these type of scare-tactic articles, shrouded in shadowy science fiction disguised as medical knowledge, that effectively argue, “this is what will happen since abortion is legal.”

Obviously she views these speculations about the impact of prenatal testing as an attack on abortion rights.

And maybe they are. Maybe when people are having abortions because their unborn baby boy would have only grown to be 5’6″ they’ll realize that most abortions in America are about nothing more than personal preference anyway.

Does Prenatal Testing Change Pregnancy?

The bigger question, though, to me is: “Seriously? You don’t know whether genetic testing will ‘change the experience of being pregnant'”?

Even with the limited testing that is available today, 92% of babies diagnosed before birth as “likely” having Down Syndrome are aborted.

There are well over 100 million missing girls on the planet, particularly in China and India, where having a boy is highly valued. The Wall Street Journal published a review just this weekend of a new book, Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men by Mara Hvistendahl. (Interestingly, Hvistendahl is another pro-abort worried about the implications of prenatal testing, in this case testing for sex, on abortion rights as a whole.)

Then there are other stories, like this one about a couple who aborted twin boys because they wanted a girl.  Or this one that my co-worker John Jansen wrote about last year regarding an international surrogacy business that allows you to customize your results.

Do you think genetic testing and ultrasound had something to do with these cases?

And you don’t think parents knowing their unborn babies were at risk for other serious diseases or other “negative characteristics” would be a “game-changer”?

Failing to See the Obvious Threat of Prenatal Testing

Later, Sophia writes:

Parents know these days, via ultrasound and testing (blood tests, among others) if their fetus will be born with a serious medical condition. Sometimes a parent chooses to abort and sometimes the parent does not choose to abort.  For most people, these choices aren’t even in their realm of possibilities. Medical care before, during and after pregnancy aren’t possible for most women in the world.

What she is essentially saying then, is that there are so many pregnant women in developing countries who get no health care whatsoever, and because these women wouldn’t be given the chance to have undergo prenatal testing, it couldn’t possibly have an effect on these pregnancies.

To which my response is:

  1. There are 33 million women in the United States; each year 4.14 million children are born and 1.2 million are aborted. If any nation is going to get this technology, don’t you think it would be the US? And don’t you think it would have an impact on the birth/abortion numbers?
  2. As Hvistendahl notes in her book, sex-selection abortions have made their way to China, India, Azerbaijan, and Armenia. Why wouldn’t this technology eventually find it to these nations which already place a high premium on having children of the “right” sex?
  3. As anybody who has ever bought a pricey, brand new piece of technology, only to find it has plummeted in price a year later knows, technology gets cheaper after its been on the market for a while. These tests won’t always be so expensive that people desperate for “perfect” babies won’t be able to scrape together the money to have them done.

Of course, coming at this from a pro-life perspective (one which intrinsically values all human life), even a single use of this testing to “weed out” an “imperfect” child would be gravely wrong. I pray and hope these tests do not become available, because—knowing what I know of human nature—I greatly fear the results.

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