What is Chorionic Villus sampling?  Why are pro-lifers opposed to it?  B.D., Chatham

Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS) is a method used in early pregnancy for the diagnosis of genetic disorders in the pre-born child.  At about ten weeks, a small sample of tissue is removed from the developing placenta and the cells are examined.  Because it is known that the embryo and the placenta are both formed from the cells of the original fertilized ovum, it follows that a study of the cells taken in CVS will give the same infoemation about the foetus.

Why do pro-lifers oppose CVS?  In 1985 a controlled study was undertaken in British Columbia to determine the safety and accuracy of CVS and to compare it with amnioncentesis.  A letter sent to doctors explained the “need” for the study: “The drawback of amnioncentesis is results are not available until 19 or 20 weeks of gestation.  If abnormal results are present, second trimester abortion has increased risks of maternal morbidity.  It has been for these reasons that first trimester prenatal diagnosis chorionic villus sampling has been developed.”

That says it all.  CVS is a “search and destroy” exercise aimed at eliminating the handicapped child at an entry stage of pregnancy.  In recent weeks, however, there has been a postscript.  Some scientific studies are now indicating that CVS can actually damage the pre-born child, who otherwise would be perfect.

Friends say of abortion, “what does it matter?  You can anaesthetize the fetus, and it will never know the difference?”  What’s the answer?  M.L., North York.

Abortion is about more than pain, it’s about killing.  It would be quite possible to kill an adult or a teenager painlessly and without them knowing, but it would still be murder.  The fact that the victim “never knew” and did not feel pain would not make it less a crime.  Whenever a preborn child is aborted, painlessly or not, it is killed quite deliberately because its life is considered of no value, or it is simply in the way and does not fit in someone else’s plan.  Thus the value of all human life is diminished.

Please help a new pro-lifer.  What is amniocentesis?  A.P., Toronto.

Amniocentesis is a diagnostic procedure used in the early stages of pregnancy.  At around 15 weeks of pregnancy a needle is passed through the cavity of the uterus into the amniotic sac.  A small quantity of amniotic fluid from around the developing foetus is withdrawn and examined.  An analysis of the chemical and cytological (cell) sontents of the fluid is used to diagnose some abnormalities of the foetus.

Amniocentesis was developed inorder to diagnose and treat abnormalities in the pre-born child.  Today it is a matter of deep concern that the procedure is used to “search and destroy” the child with a disability.  A recent study estimated that 80 per cent of the babies diagnosed as having Down’s syndrome are aborted.

What is the Human Genome Initiative and will it affect our pro-life, pro-family efforts?  A.C., Newmarket

The “Initiative” is an attempt to identify and map all human genes, in order to increase the ability to foresee the future patterns of illness in individuals.  There are some potential benefits but also very serious problems.

It is feared, for example, that persons who are identified as potentially ar risk may well find it impossible to but life or health insurance.  A conflict of interest between insurance companies and the protection of personal privacy has raised concern in Western Europe where official opinion seems to favour a complete ban on genetic testing for insurance purposes.  Belgium already prohibits the communication of genetic data to insurers, without exception.

The Canadian Labour Congress sees similar dangers to workers.  In its brief to the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies, the CLC claimed that adults are being denied work on the basis of genetic testing and it recommended: “Genetic screening of workers must be made illegal.”  In California, Bill 1888, which would have prevented employers and insurance companies from using genetic information, passed in the State legislature but was vetoed by the Governor.

The unborn child is endangered.  At a recent Law and Medicine conference in Toronto, one speaker posed the question: “If and when genetic information is fully available could payment for health costs, which could have been avoided through birth control or selective abortions, be refused?”  Another speaker said: “…with the ever escalating concerns about health care costs, it is not hard to imagine strong social support for the position that continuing a pregnancy in which the child has a substantial chance of being born with a significant health problem might be regarded as a form of child abuse, or that to control health-care costs, abortion should be required in those circumstances.”  (our emphasis)  The warning is clearly written on the wall.