If you have recently received an adverse prenatal diagnosis for your unborn baby, it is likely you are feeling fearful and confused. It is possible that you have already been counseled to terminate your pregnancy and you are wondering if this is what you should do.
As a parent of a potential special needs child, please know that you are not alone. Many parents have been in the place you are now, and many are there now to help you deal with your fears and questions. Please do not make a hasty decision to terminate, a decision which may leave you with memories you may not want to remember later in life.
Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis is a screening technology used to scan embryos conceived through in vitro fertilization for potential genetic malformations. PGD can screen for diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, Down‘s syndrome and others.
This method of screening raises many concerns. Prenatal diagnosis which respects the life and integrity of the unborn child and seeks to ascertain which therapies might be beneficial is morally permissible. PGD is used primarily to detect genetic disorders to avoid the birth of human beings with these conditions. When the embryos created through in-vitro fertilization are found to be "defective", they are discarded or donated for research. While we must sympathize with parents who fear passing on an inherited disorder, does anyone have a right to disability-free children or a guarantee to only healthy children?
A prenatal screening program being pioneered at North York General Hospital in Toronto is being hailed as the new way forward for determining genetic abnormalities in unborn children. The question society should be asking is why is it so important to develop better screening methods. Is it to provide life saving treatment or to eliminate the affected child through abortion because he or she is handicapped?