By Hilary White

November 10, 2005 ( – A US National Institutes of Health-financed study has shown that first-trimester screening with a blood test and ultrasound can detect Down’s syndrome in an unborn child 87% of the time. Another test in the second trimester can give up to 95% accurate diagnosis researchers report in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Lead author Fergal Malone says that the study of more than 38,000 U.S. women could lead to more screening using less invasive procedures. In most cases, Down’s syndrome is detected using amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS), both invasive procedures that carry a risk of miscarriage. Malone stressed that screening should not be the only factor in a woman’s decision to “terminate” a pregnancy.

While the test itself does not necessarily have any moral weight, human rights advocates have said that in most cases, the practice is the first step in an inevitable trip to the abortionist. 89 percent of Down Syndrome babies in Canada, and 90 percent in the U.S. are killed before birth.

The late Tanis Doe, who had been a professor of social work at the University of Victoria, British Columbia said in March 2004 that a prenatal, Nazi-style extermination campaign is being waged against the disabled in most of the western world.

Doe, who died in August 2004, was deaf and paraplegic. She spoke at the University of Alberta, warning that eugenics is far from dead. “Women are expected to—pressured to—abort pregnancies when foetal disability is diagnosed.”

Doe’s assertion is backed up by an announcement in 2001 from the British Government which advised all pregnant women to undergo tests for Down’s syndrome. Some bioethicists have speculated that there are economic considerations that contribute to a government’s interest in eliminating the disabled.

As public health insurance and social programmes in socialist countries like Britain and Canada become increasingly overburdened, families who refuse screening and abortion of ‘defective’ children, may face financial penalties or loss of benefits.

In the meantime, families struggle with diminished programmes to help care for their disabled children. As the euthanasia movement gains strength in public acceptance, even violence against disabled people also becomes more acceptable.

In one tragic case, the Guardian reported November 2, that a mother was convicted of killing her 36 year-old Down’s syndrome son, Patrick Markcrow, who had developed severe autism. Wendolyn Markcrow killed her son using a method recommended by euthanasia advocates: sleeping pills and a plastic bag. Mrs. Markcrow received a two-year suspended sentence for the murder, which she said she committed when she received no help with her son from social services agencies.

Read coverage from USA Today:
Study: Early screening works

Read related coverage:
Abortion is Primary Direction for Obstetricians After Down’s Diagnosis Study Finds

Academic Says Canadian Prenatal-Screening Practice a Reflection of “Nazi-Style Eugenics”