WHAT IS THE NIPT?
Nipt means Non Invasive Prenatal Testing. This test can potentially detect hundreds of genetic variations, micro-deletions and duplications in the unborn child by analysing the mother’s blood.
Freedom to choose means that a pregnant woman chooses, at her own request, for which conditions she wants to screen during her pregnancy and what to do with the result. On the contrary; routinely offering to screen and/or terminate a pregnancy for a condition (Down syndrome) chosen by state or health-insurance influences this freedom and should be qualified as an obligation to choose.
GOVERNMENT OR HEALTH-INSURANCE DECIDES
In most countries the NIPT is focused primarily on detecting Down syndrome. Screening for Down syndrome does not lead to health gain.
Dna-screening cannot tell anything about the quality of life that is expected. It does not pick-up on birth defects or other health issues that may, or may not be the result of an extra chromosome.
The goal of (early) screening is to enable selection. If the goal is to prepare parents, information is shared only after the legal abortion term. The focus on Down syndrome wrongfully implies that it is a serious condition causing suffering.
Down syndrome is, according to usual medical definitions, not serious: Think of average IQ, life-expectancy and other factors affecting quality of life. Research has shown people with Down syndrome rate life better than people without Down syndrome. They are very happy!
Down syndrome constitutes only about 5% of all conditions or disabilities a child can have. That means that 95% of ‘special needs’ will not be detected by screening. This includes cerebral palsy, autism, ADHD, diabetes, lack of oxygen at birth, etc. People who feel they cannot raise a child with special needs should understand that NIPT does not offer any guarantee but instead creates a false illusion.
Down syndrome has always existed as a natural part of the human race and happens in about 1 in 700 children. International Human Rights Conventions ban discrimination on the bases of shared genetic traits.
Since the NIPT has made it’s entry, women pregnant with a child with Down syndrome report experiencing increased discrimination and impertinent remarks in their environment and by medical professionals. Carrying a pregnancy to term is not a real option for women who believe that society does not fully accept their child and provide sufficient assistance.
Genetic screening with Nipt is the beginning of something we do not know the ending of. If society accepts that public healthcare is used to actively terminate a group based on easily identifiable shared genetic traits, you don’t have to read sci-fi books to know more human species will be singled out for selection in the future. Who will be next? People with lower IQ’s, a psychological predisposition, a physical weakness, your own off-spring?
ery time woman is asked if she wants genetic screening for Down syndrome it is suggested that screening can tell something about the quality of life that is expected. It cannot. A dna-test does not pick-up on birth defects or other health issues that may, or may not be the result of an extra chromosome.
Renate Lindeman – @Downpride