By John-Henry Westen

  OTTAWA, February 8, 2007 ( – This week the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC) recommended all pregnant women to be offered non-invasive prenatal genetic screening for fetal aneuploidy (chromosomal abnormality), with a particular emphasis on Down’s syndrome.  The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF), an entity sponsored by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus, called the proposal “a disturbing step towards eugenics in our society.”

  The National Post reported on January 6, 2007 that according to the executive vice president of the SOGC, this screening was being recommended “so that a greater number of women would have the option to terminate their pregnancies should fetal abnormalities be detected”.

“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,” said COLF. “However,  for most genetic conditions that can be identified in the womb,  including fetal aneuploidy and particularly Down’s syndrome, there are no available cures or therapies that can be administered before the child is born.”

  Dr. John Shea, the medical consultant to the pro-life group Campaign Life Coalition, told that in addition to the aforementioned difficulties, prenatal testing methods such as amniocintesis and chorionic villus sampling (CVS) have a 1 in 200 and a 1 in 100 chance of being fatal for the unborn child.

  Dr. Shea found particularly disturbing the statements from persons within the medical field who describe abortion after detection of Down Syndrome or similar handicaps, “cures” or “treatments”.  “They say they are eliminating the disease when they are eliminating the diseased,” he said.

‘People with disabilities are a blessing for our communities,” said COLF.  “Indeed, even when they are unable to relate to us, the disabled invite us to learn to love and to freely give of ourselves.  In their weaknesses they become witnesses of human dignity and equality, showing us that human worth does not come from successes, beauty or fame but from simply being created in the image of God.”

  Speaking on the subject on February 4, 2007 Pope Benedict XVI said:  “Life, which is the work of God, must not be denied to any one, not even the smallest and defenseless newborn, and much less so when he has serious handicaps.”

  COLF concluded, “In a world of limited funding, the priority should be on research into cures and therapies for genetic diseases rather than on tests that might be the equivalent of a death sentence.”