Tag: selective abortion

Bioethics News

UK report on prenatal testing calls for ban on sex disclosure

A new report by the UK’s Nuffield Council on Bioethics, “Non-invasive prenatal testing: ethical issues”, has probably pleased no one by trying to steer a course between banning abortions for sex-selection and allowing abortions for the most common kind of foetal abnormalities.

NIPT is a major breakthrough. It uses a blood sample taken from the pregnant woman and can be done from 9 or 10 weeks of pregnancy. It analyses DNA from the placenta that circulates in the woman’s blood to estimate the chance that the fetus has Down’s, Edwards’ or Patau’s syndromes, as well as single-gene disorders like cystic fibrosis and achondroplasia. It can also determine its sex.

The test is currently available in the UK through private hospitals and clinics, and in some NHS (ie, public) hospitals. Last year, the UK Government announced that from 2018, the NHS will offer NIPT to pregnant women who have been found through initial screening to have at least a 1 in 150 likelihood of having a fetus with Down’s, Patau’s or Edwards’ syndromes.

The report says that NIPT should lead to fewer false results and fewer diagnostic tests, which carry a small risk of miscarriage. In the case of Down syndrome fetuses, 200 more would be identified (with 90% or more being aborted) and 17 fewer miscarriages of healthy foetuses because of invasive tests.

In addition, the Nuffield Council calls for a moratorium on the use of NIPT in sequencing the whole genome of fetuses; it wants a ban on its use in finding out the sex of the fetus because that would lead to sex-selective abortion.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Ban Early Pregnancy Blood Test to Curb Abortion of Baby Girls, Ethics Body Demands

March 2, 2017

(The Telegraph) – A blood test which reveals the sex of a baby after nine weeks should be banned for routine use because it promotes sex-selective abortion, a Government-backed think tank has said. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics has warned that unscrupulous private clinics are offering non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) to parents who only want to find out whether or not they are having a boy. It comes amid fears some doctors are unlawfully performing abortions purely on the basis of sex.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Bill to restrict disability-selective abortion progresses in House of Lords

A bill that would end disability-selective abortion up-to-birth has passed its Second Reading in the UK House of Lords and proceeded to the Committee Stage.

If successful, Lord Kevin Shinkwin’s Abortion (Disability Equality) Bill will remove section 1(1)(d) from the 1967 Abortion Act, which allows for abortion on the grounds of disability up-to-birth. In the UK, disability-selective abortions are currently available right up to the moment of birth whereas in most cases, “healthy” babies cannot be aborted beyond 24 weeks.

Speaking as the bill was debated late last month, Lord Shinkwin said:

“From this disabled person’s perspective, there is a stark anomaly, an inconsistency in the law, whereby discrimination on grounds of disability is both prohibited in law after birth yet, confusingly, actually enshrined in law at the very point at which the discrimination begins, at source, before birth.”

The bill is supported by the We’re All Equal disability rights campaign, a grassroots movement that aims to make “disability equality a reality”.

‘’It is time for a national discussion on disability equality”, said Dr Elizabeth Corcoran, spokesperson for the We’re All Equal campaign. “As a society that has disability equality written into law it is high time that we had an informed discussion and vote on whether it is acceptable to abort a child with a disability on the one hand, while not allowing it on the grounds of gender on the other.”

This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

5 Reasons Why We Need People with Disabilities in the CRISPR Debates

This article was cross-posted on Disability Remix, the blog of the Paul K. Longmore Institute on Disability at San Francisco State University.

Maybe you haven’t heard of CRISPR-Cas9. To be honest, if I hadn’t previously worked at the Center for Genetics and Society, I probably wouldn’t have heard of it either. It’s a new genetic technology that brings modification of the human germline closer in reach than ever before.

Driven by the promise of allowing parents to avoid passing on incurable genetic diseases to their offspring, the use of CRISPR to engineer human embryos presents serious risks with particularly strong implications for people with disabilities—in the present and future. It’s been getting plenty of press. And yet, as someone who tries to stay up to date constantly with what’s trending in the disability social media scene, it has seemed to me that CRISPR has been more or less absent.

Why aren’t people in the disability community talking more about this?

Why should people with disabilities have to keep spending their time justifying their existence rather than just enjoying it at present?

An event poster for Future Past in 2013 is shown, with purple clouds, and a DNA helix forms the base of a signpost with two directions: future and past.I recall a conference I organized with the Longmore Institute in 2013, “Future Past: Disability, Eugenics, and Strange New Worlds.” Disability studies scholar and activist Marsha Saxton began her panel by sharing a memory of talking with a genetics counselor while contemplating getting pregnant. The counselor exclaimed, “Gee, if I’d have known Spina Bifadas turned out as well as you, I would not have recommended selective abortion as much as I’ve done!”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

In the Journals – April 2016 Part I by Michelle Pentecost

Welcome to the first stack of ‘In the Journals’ for April! It’s a bumper crop, so find a cosy corner and some coffee to comb through it all. Happy reading!

Medicine Anthropology Theory

Is the 21st century the age of biomedicalization?

Eileen Moyer and Vinh-Kim Nguyen

(Excerpt from editorial )

The diverse contributions that make up this issue of MAT, we gingerly suggest, could initiate a provocative conversation in response to the following question: what if biomedicine, or to be more precise ‘biomedicalization’(Clarke 2003), is to the twenty-first century as industrialization was to the nineteenth? …. The question of whether biomedicalization will be the twenty-first-century equivalent to industrialization sprang to mind in reading Catherine Waldby and Melinda Cooper’s important book, Clinical Labor, reviewed in this issue by Neil Singh (and is also raised by another important volume, Lively Capital, edited by Kaushik Sunder Rajan). Singh underlines the central argument of the book: surrogacy, participation in clinical trials, donation of body parts, and other practices enabled by a global regime of biomedicine can be theorized together as forms of clinical labour that are derived from the body’s inherent potential for regeneration. There is, in this, a parallel to the assemblage of machines in factories, which enabled the emergence of a working class united by their engagement in industrial labour. Industrialization signed the transformation of the relationship between consciousness, embodiment, and human engagement with the material world, increasingly subsumed into raw material for transformation through industrialized labour into the commodity form.

 

Biomedical packages: Adjusting drugs, bodies, and environment in a phase III clinical trial

Charlotte Brives

Clinical trials are a fundamental stage in a drug’s biography for they provide the standard by which a molecule’s therapeutic status is determined.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

Gendercide becomes an issue in Canada

The problem of gendercide has spread from India to Canada, researchers claim in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). A statistical analysis of births in Ontario found that the male-to-female sex ratio at birth — which ranges between 1.03 to 1.07 naturally — is as high as 1.96 if an Indian-born woman already had two daughters.

The researchers believe that over the past 20 years, there are 4,472 “missing” girls in Canada as a result of a preference for males amongst Indian immigrants. This happens mostly when both parents were born in India.

Researchers looked at data on more than 1.2 million births in women with having a third child in Ontario between 1993 and 2012. Of these, 153,829 (12.6%) were immigrant women from Asia.

Among women born in India who already had two girls, the ratio of male to female babies for the third birth was almost double the average, with 196 boys born for every 100 girls. If an Indian-born mother with two daughters had had an abortion before the third child, the sex ratio increased to 326 boys for every 100 girls and to 409 boys if the mother had had multiple abortions.

If a woman had an abortion at or after 15 weeks, when ultrasound can determine sex of the fetus, the sex ratio rose further, to 663 boys for every 100 girls.

“Among some Indian immigrants, the practice of induced abortions is associated with subsequently having a boy, especially at the third birth and among women with two previous girls,” says Dr Marcelo Urquia, St.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

The ethics of Indiana HB 1337: Outlawing abortion based on race, sex, and disability


In March, the Indiana legislature passed and the Indiana
governor signed into law
HB
1337
, a bill that bans abortions for women seeking them based solely on
certain characteristics of the fetus, such as race, sex, and disability.
Specifically, the bill:


 


“Prohibits a person from performing
an abortion if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion
solely because of: (1) the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of
the fetus; or (2) a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down
syndrome or any other disability. Provides for disciplinary sanctions and civil
liability for wrongful death if a person knowingly or intentionally performs a
sex selective abortion or an abortion conducted because of a diagnosis or
potential diagnosis of Down syndrome or any other disability.”


 


As I have discussed in a previous
blog
, sex selection is a frequent occurrence in certain countries, such as
India and China, where there is a strong preference for sons. Yet, there is
little to no evidence that sex selection abortion is commonplace in the US. Abortion
based on the race of the fetus is similarly rare in the US. While the purpose
of any law is to prohibit actions it deems unethical or contrary to social
norms, regardless of their frequency, due to limited time and resources, it
makes sense to focus on bills that address common occurrences or things that
are so morally repugnant that the state must take a stand. The main motivating
factor for this bill does not seem to be avoiding discrimination based on sex
and race, but rather trying to undermine legal access to abortion.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

Zika, Gandhi and the CDC

Guest Post by Agomoni Ganguli Mitra

Three pieces of news over the last weeks particularly troubled me.  In the first, and perhaps most radical of them all, Latin American governments began to urge women not to become pregnant over the next couple of years, as a public health measure to restrict the number of children born with microcephaly, potentially caused by the Zika virus currently plaguing the region.  The second came from the Indian Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, one of the highest ranking officials in the current Indian government.  For years, India has struggled with non-medical sex-selective abortion (and female infanticide) in such significant numbers, that the sex-ratio for infants in certain regions has become heavily skewed.  Despite sex-determination being illegal since 1994, the practice has continued with the complicity of physicians and clinics, and in some cases without the consent of the pregnant women themselves.  At a conference in early February, Gandhi suggested that an alternative to the current, ineffective policy of criminalising those who provide ultrasounds and sex-selective abortions, would be to register and monitor every pregnant woman in the country to ensure that female foetuses are brought to term and female infants are not killed shortly after birth.  The last and most recent piece is perhaps the least shocking of them all, if only because we almost take it for granted that women’s health and lifestyles choices are seen to be closely related to their ability and inclination to produce babies.  The US government’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a bulletin patronisingly subtitled Why Take the Chance?

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics News

UK doctor suspended for three months over abortion

Dr Palaniappan Rajmohan   

A British doctor at the centre of an undercover press investigation has been suspended for three months after authorizing a sex-selective abortion. Dr Palaniappan Rajmohan, who practices at the Calthorpe clinic in Edgbaston, Birmingham, was approached in 2011 by actors posing as a couple seeking a sex-selective abortion. Initially he was reluctant, calling it “female infanticide”, but after the couple agreed that he could use another reason on a government form he agreed.

Raimohan was originally reported to Crown Prosecution Service, which decided it was not “in the public’s interest” to prosecute. The case was referred on to the General Medical Council, which, after a protracted enquiry, found that Rajmohan had lied about the about the reason for termination.

The panel concluded that: “Despite…apparently believing that the request for a termination of pregnancy was being based on the gender of the foetus, [Rajmohan] immediately volunteered to Ms A the alternative reason ‘too young for pregnancy’ and sought her agreement to this reason.”

The panel stated that Rajmohan had acted dishonestly. It suspended his registration with immediate effect.

The GMC dropped its investigation into Prabha Sivaraman, a second doctor, who was recorded telling a woman: “I don’t ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination.” 

The controversy surrounding D. Rajmohan has tested the UK’s ambiguous legislation on sex-selective abortion, with the CPS suggesting that it is a matter “better dealt with by the GMC rather than by prosecution.”

This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.

Bioethics Blogs

A Delicate Balancing Act August 27, 2015 Restricting the use of sex selection technologies w…

August 27, 2015

by Sean Philpott-Jones

There has been a lot of discussion about fertility treatments in both the popular press and the medical literature of late.

This discussion has been driven in part by debates about the Affordable Care Act, including questions as to whether or not it should cover fertility treatment for socioeconomically disadvantaged prospective parents. But the discussion has also been driven by recent announcements by companies like Facebook and Apple that they will begin offering cryopreservation of eggs to female employees as part of their health-insurance plans.

Adding to the debate over reproductive rights is a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, which purported that an increasing number of patients are seeking fertility treatment not because they are having difficulty getting pregnant but rather for the purposes of sex-selection. Specifically, they want to choose the sex of their child.

There are some valid medical reasons why prospective parents might want to choose the sex of their child. For instance, they may want to have a girl if they are known to be carriers of diseases like hemophila or Duchenne muscular dystrophy.  These diseases are linked to genes that are located on the X-chromosome, and they affect males almost exclusively. The mother, who carries two copies of the X-chromosome, is unaffected. So are her daughters, although they too may be carriers of the trait. Her sons, however, only have one copy of the X-chromosome and thus have a 1-in-2 chance of inheriting these severe disorders.

But in the absence of a known risk of transmitting a serious X-linked disease, the only reasons for seeking fertility treatment for the purposes of sex-selection are likely to be social, and there in lies the issue.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.