Monday, July 12, 2010

Blood Test for Down's Syndrome

The Daily Mail reported on June 30th on what they describe as a quick inexpensive blood test for Down's syndrome that could save the lives of hundreds of unborn babies each year, which is being developed by scientists.

The report describes the test as the 'holy grail' of diagnosis, which would pick up signs of the disorder from a few drops of the mother's blood and could save lives by removing the risk of miscarriage associated with current tests. Clearly the lives of unaffected babies could be considered "saved" only in the sense that they would not be miscarried as a result of invasive investigations to detect and destroy Down's syndrome babies. However, it seems self evident that the main result of the test would be to terminate hundreds of unborn babies with Down's syndrome.

SPUC report that Alison Davis, head of No Less Human said that she was dismayed to read the story. Alison said that this "hope" seems to be based on the fact that the test may reduce the numbers of miscarriages of so-called "healthy" babies who currently die as a result of invasive tests to detect Down's syndrome." but that this perpetuates the common myth that while killing a "healthy" baby is a tragedy, killing a disabled baby is to be lauded.
Alison also questioned whether a greater offence could be given to another human being than telling them that killing him/her is a “holy grail”.