New screening test for Down syndrome: “a simple blood sample?”

Publié le : 17 May 2013

 In the editorial of the daily Ouest France on 10 May, Jacques Le Goff comments on the recent statement of the CCNE (National Consultative Committee on Ethics) in favour of the progressive introduction of the new very early foetal test capable of screening trisomy 21, 13 and 18 (Gènéthique press review from 22nd to 26th of April 2013).        

He questions the ethics of this new prenatal test: does it represent "a significant change?" "in appearance, no. In reality, yes," affirms Jacques Le Goff. And it is for this reason that the Director General for Health has decided to lay this matter before the CCNE because the advances of this new test "raise issues regarding the possible risk of eugenic abuses." The editorialist underlines the risk of eugenics: "if we discover the certainty or the probability of serious diseases that may not be incurable, what will happen?" in our time when disabilities have become intolerable. If normality had imposed its law, as it does today, in the time of Mozart, Dostoevsky, Newton or Beethoven, they would all have been classified as undesirable, he reminds us.
Thus, the "real worry is apart from the test" but is of course "linked to it." It is to be feared that through the adoption of this new technique, "it will soon be simpler to decrypt the entire genetic message of the foetus rather than to select the regions concerned." Faced with the current tendency to multiply the "cases where a preimplantation diagnosis is made, which enables the selection of embryos in very exceptional situations," the greater risk is the "stigmatisation of disability" and what this leads to.

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