Genetic Counseling is that field of medicine which is involved in gathering genetic and family information in an effort to determine whether a particular couple would be likely to pass on certain genetic diseases to any future children. A risk ratio may be formulated and the couple would then decide whether or not to have children or perhaps they would consider the alternative of adoption.


Since the liberalization of abortion, genetic counseling has expanded to include prenatal diagnosis. Projecting the risk of genetic disease for a possible future child is quite limited when compared to the data attainable from rigorous testing on the child himself. Unfortunately, most genetic diseases cannot be treated in the womb; therefore the couple is presented with the opportunity to kill any afflicted children by abortion.


“Prevention by killing the patient”


We are being told that genetic diseases and birth defects can be “prevented.” Their plan, however, is to take our health care system and to use its life giving capabilities to now “prevent” disease by terminating the life of the afflicted patient. It saves money, but is it right?


The incidence of having children with Down’s syndrome is higher when the mother is over 37 years old (I per 250 births). Some doctors will offer these women a diagnostic test called amniocentesis, provided she agrees to abort her child if the diagnosis is positive. At about 16 weeks, a long needle is inserted through the wall of the uterus into the amniotic fluid. A syringe is then attached and a small amount of fluid is removed. Skin cells, shed from the baby, are found in the fluid and grown in a tissue culture. After three to four weeks, Down’s syndrome can be detected by chromosome analysis. If the test is positive the baby is salted out at about 20 week’s gestation.


Amniocentesis carries with it certain risks which are not always properly explained during “counseling.” A British Working Group concluded that 2% of women undergoing amniocentesis would lose healthy babies by prematurity stillbirth, etc., as a direct result of the amniocentesis procedure. Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman of Medical Genetics at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, said that some of the studies on the safety of amniocentesis have lacked objectivity having been conducted by people with special interests. Professor Gordon pointed out that the Research Council of Great Britain listed a 6% increase in pregnancy complications directly attributable to amniocentesis. Professor Gordon also mentioned factors which could lead to false test results and concluded by saying, “We are offering women a test with a built-in hazard eight to nine times greater than the risk that their babies will be born with Down’s syndrome.”


A 20 week old unborn child could be born and survive in a well equipped hospital, yet normal children lost at this age as a result of the prenatal testing process are referred to as “fetal wastage.” Obviously, the physician who would encourage prenatal diagnosis to facilitate eugenic abortion has little respect for the life of your unborn child whether he be handicapped of not. Is this the kind of physician you want for you and your little ones?


George is a contributor from Nova Scotia.