By Hilary White

  OTTAWA, January 11, 2007 ( – In the same month, both the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) are recommending that all pregnant women, not just those over 35, should be screened, including with invasive procedures such as amniocentesis, to discover whether they have a risk of bearing a child with Down’s Syndrome.

  While the ACOG media release does not directly mention abortion as the usual fate of the “screened” babies, a SOGC official readily admits that the Canadian recommendation was specifically intended to give women the option to abort a child with Down’s Syndrome.

“Yes, it’s going to lead to more termination, but it’s going to be fair to these women who are 24 who say, ‘How come I have to raise an infant with Down’s syndrome, whereas my cousin who was 35 didn’t have to?’” Dr. Andre Lalonde, the executive vice president of the SOGC, told the National Post.

  Dr. Lalonde said the only ethical consideration is to ensure that an abortion is “what the woman wants”. “We have to be fair to give women a choice,” he said.

  The National Post says that SOGC’s recommendation, to be released in the society’s journal on February 1, is that pregnant women under 40 “be given” non-invasive screening and amniocentesis if their risk for Down’s syndrome appears high. Pregnant women over the age of 40 should “automatically be given amniocentesis” the Post reports.

  On January 2, ACOG’s media release said women should automatically “be offered” the option of “less invasive” screening, such as genetic counseling and ultrasounds, as well as the more dangerous amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS) to detect any possible “chromosome abnormality or…inherited condition”.

  Canada’s pro-life leaders expressed outrage at the eugenic implications of the recommendations.

  Jim Hughes, National President of CLC responded to SOGC saying, “More than 3 million babies have already been killed by abortion. Sex-selection is quickly becoming an option and a threat to the unborn, and now the medical profession, that is supposed to save lives, is proposing to terminate lives based on its medical version of acceptability.”

  Joseph Boyle, a professor teaching Christian bioethics at the University of Toronto told the National Post that though having more information is itself a good thing, the ethics depends upon what is done with it.

“Other than having an abortion if the child is discovered to have Down’s,” he said, “what good is that information going to be?”

  ACOG says the goal is to “offer procedures with “high detection rates and low false positive rates” and admits that the invasive amniocentesis and CVS procedures can result in what they call “pregnancy loss.”

  Dr. James Goldberg, a former chairman of ACOG’s committee on genetics, told the New York Times that the recommendation to offer younger women the invasive procedures was worth the risk of miscarriage.

  He said that for most couples, “losing a normal pregnancy secondary to the procedure is not as problematic as the birth of a Down syndrome child, so they’re willing to take that risk.”

  The ACOG guidelines were published in the January edition of journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

  Read related coverage:
  Earlier Screening for Down’s Syndrome May Fuel Eugenic Program Against Disabled


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