Sunday, November 25, 2012

Why have a defective child? - problem of genetic tests

Times of Israel   Expectant mothers have long faced the choice of learning their babies’ gender while they’re still in the womb.

But what if parents could get a list of all the genes and chromosomes of their unborn children, forecasting everything from possible autism and future genetic diseases to intelligence level and eye color?

The technology to do just that — prenatal whole genome sequencing, which can detect all 20,000 to 25,000 genes in the genome from fetal blood present in the mother’s bloodstream — is already in laboratories. While not yet available in clinical settings because of the cost, once the price falls below $1,000, it is likely to become common, according to a report by the Hastings Center, a nonpartisan bioethics research institute. [...]

“Our real concern will be massive increases in the number of abortions,” said Rabbi Moshe Tendler, a professor of bioethics at Yeshiva University. “You have a young couple, 22, 23, 24 years old, and they don’t plan to have more than two or three children. Why take a defective child? I call it the perfect baby syndrome. The perfect baby does not exist.” [...]

The difference between prenatal sequencing and current genetic testing is the amount of information and its usefulness. Current tests look for specific genetic disorders. Prenatal sequencing is a fishing expedition, looking at everything.


  1. Counterpoint: People will lead happier lives if the risk of severe birth defects and developmental delays is removed. From a religious perspective, more people will reproduce more because they will have a substantially reduced fear of birth defects or developmental disabilities. Would you trade 100 couples on birth control for an early term abortion?

  2. It will be great if a fetus can be checked early enough to abort it. Create a healthier, saner society.


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