Genetic screening called a move toward eugenics

  • February 16, 2007
OTTAWA - The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) says a recent call by Canadian obstetricians and gynecologists for all women to be offered prenatal genetic screening is a “disturbing step toward eugenics in our society.”

In a Feb. 8 release, COLF called upon all Canadians, especially doctors and expectant parents, to "uphold the inherent worth and dignity of every human life and to protect the basic human rights of the disabled, including first and foremost their right to be born."

COLF was responding to a Feb. 5 recommendation from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) "that  every Canadian woman, regardless of her age, be offered the choice to undergo non-invasive genetic screening during her pregnancy."

Dr. Donald Davis, president of the SOGC, said in a Feb. 5 news release that "it is our assertion that increasing access to non-invasive testing methods by more pregnant women will result in fewer invasive procedures such as amniocentesis being performed."

While the society's release avoids mention of abortion, instead focusing on counselling and opportunities for informed choices for parents, Dr. Andre Lalonde, a University of Ottawa professor of obstetrics and gynecology, told the National Post in January that the testing would give more women the option to terminate their pregnancies.

Women 35 and older are already offered this kind of testing. COLF recognizes some of these tests can be useful.

"Prenatal diagnosis demonstrates the positive advancements of science when it is employed to safeguard the life and integrity of the child and the mother, and does not place them at risk," COLF said.

"However, for most genetic conditions that can be identified in the womb, including fetal aneuploidy (chromosome abnormalities) and particularly Down's syndrome, there are no available cures or therapies that can be administered before the child is born.

"The predominant purpose of prenatal genetic screening for fetal aneuploidy is thus to offer parents the option of aborting 'defective' babies. This places parents in the position of making life-death decisions based on their own preferences, fears and guesses about the future quality of their own lives and their children's," COLF stated.

COLF noted that human life is "worth more than a series of rational calculations" and disabled or ill Canadians make positive contributions and "remind us that perfect health and a normal IQ are not required for happiness, friendship and love of life."

"Rather than offering the parents of these children a way of eliminating their unborn, we should be providing them with more resources and support." 

"We cannot rely solely on the state; all of us have an individual responsibility to help natural caregivers in everyday life.

"A society that aspires to social justice is measured by how it treats its weaker and more needy members," COLF said.

"The announcement of the SOGC is a signal for Canadians to make a commitment to recognize and protect the rights of the disabled, including their first and fundamental right to life."

The full text is available at .

COLF is an independent pro-life and pro-family organization co-sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus.

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