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Screening for disability: a eugenic pursuit?

Gillott, J

Journal of Medical Ethics   27 (suppl 2) ii21-ii23

October 2001

http://jme.bmj.com/content/27/suppl_2/ii21.full

This article is written in response to the idea that selective termination may be eugenic. It points out that a mixture of motives and goals may inform screening programmes and selective termination for fetal abnormality without the intention being “eugenic”. The paper locates modern genetics within the tradition of humanist medicine by suggesting that parents who choose to terminate a pregnancy because of fetal abnormalities are not making moral judgments about those who are living with these abnormalities already. Rather they are making judgments about their own lives and the lives of their children in relation to this genetic disorder. It concludes by introducing several caveats about the counselling that parents receive after the results of the testing and suggests that counselling inevitably contains a directive element because of the nature of the information covered.