On last 8th February, when the parliamentary debates on the bill related to bioethics opened, a lot a people denounced the eugenical drifts of the prenatal diagnosis (PND). The bill submitted in first reading to MPs reinforced significantly the mandatory character of the PND by stipulating, in its article 9, that the examinations “are proposed to any pregnant women“.
Anxiety of professionals
Gathering pregnancy professionals (gynaecologists, obstetricians, geneticists, biologists, midwives, nurses, etc.), the Committee to save prenatal medicine (CSMP) has constantly alerted “French public authorities and citizens on the evolution of prenatal diagnosis“.
Actors of the PND implementation, the 800 professionals who sign the CSMP call mentioned “the increasing anxiety” experienced in their profession. “We enter a generalised ’tracking’ of the disability“, they denounced, by establishing the initial therapeutic objective of the prenatal diagnosis. This way, “many couples have become trapped in a spiral which resulted in the MTP, without real consideration, or alternative“. Reminding that “pregnant women, couples, health insurance, public authorities and prenatal medicine professionals are trapped in a collective process which is beyond them“, they call for another public health policy, which would release the restriction of the generalised screening. The CSMP was supported by Jean-François Mattéi, former Minister for Health, by Pr Levy, chairman of the ethical Commission of the French College of gynaecologists and obstetricians and by Didier Sicard, former chairman of the National Ethics Advisory Committee (CCNE). In Le Monde of 9th February, other figures among whom Emmanuel Hirsch, director of the Ethics centre of the AP-HP and Israël Nisand, head of the obstetrics gynaecology department of the CHU of Strasbourg, requested better information for women within the framework of the PND. For them, the systematic proposal of the PND such as the bill foresaw it, included “the risk to give rise to information whose single aim is searching for woman consent” whereas it was demonstrated that “most of pregnant women are far form knowing the challenge of the screening test“.
The associations are mobilizing
In addition to these reactions, several associations gathered to denounce with one voice the eugenical drifts Down syndrome’s people are victims of. In a whole page of the Figaro and Echos from 8th February the Jérôme Lejeune Foundation, the Collectif contre l’handiphobie, Regards 21, Down Up, the Collectif des Amis d’Eléonore and the French Association for the research on Down syndrome asked to MPs to enforce the article 16-4 of the Civil Code according which “any eugenics practice tending to organise the selection of persons is prohibited” and from one hand, they call the elected officials to refuse to vote the article 9 of the bioethics bill, and from another hand, the State to support the therapeutic research on Down syndrome.