Ethical Issues of Pre-Natal Testing and Approval of Kennedy-Brownback Bill

Prenatal testing has great importance to diagnose specific fetus conditions as it is a vital part of prenatal care during pregnancy. Prenatal diagnostic testing has been emerging as one of the significant ethical issues, related to diagnostic testing in the case of normal conditions but particularly in the case of pregnancy. It is very significant to consider all ethical as well as health issues in correspondence with the prenatal tests’ goals (Ethical considerations in prenatal diagnosis, 1993). The main objectives of prenatal diagnosis are mentioned as below:

  • To diagnose any kind of maternal health issue, causing bad influences upon baby’s health
  • To identify the basic personal features of the baby which include size, sex, age, and position in the uterus
  • To diagnose any probabilities of congenital, chromosomal, and genetic issues which enhance any physical complications in a baby like fetal abnormalities or some heart problems, etc (Prenatal tests, 2008).

Though prenatal testing has no more remedial benefits for the fetus it can be influential upon the health of the pregnant woman who may enhance her decisive powers regarding reproductive matters. With the advancement of medical sciences, the prenatal testing process has been continued with the usage of the latest technologies of diagnosis, hence, raising several questions in the minds of the public who have deep concerns about this testing and its justifications (Ethical considerations in prenatal diagnosis, 1993).

Prenatal Testing methods include a wider range of diagnosis technologies like ultrasonography for invasive or non-invasive ways including amniocentesis, sampling, umbilical cord, chorionic villus, etc. Though these prenatal testing methods are very beneficial for maternal health many ethical issues have apprehensive concerns for the individuals e.g. issues of informed consent, disclosure of privacy or confidentiality, influences upon the pregnant women’s reproductive growth and decisive powers, etc. (Ethical considerations in prenatal diagnosis, 1993).

The immediate treatment may effectively maintain the fetal health and the fetal patient may improve any physical abnormalities via this prenatal testing process. There should be the determination of clear-cut aims and objectives of prenatal testing diagnosis. Diagnostic tests are commonly very useful for patients who are undergone prenatal tests and some diseases are detected by them. The advanced methods of prenatal testing are involved in health risks to fetus; probably these may be beneficial too for fetus (Ethical considerations in prenatal diagnosis, 1993).

Senators Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS) co-authored a bill, “”Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Condition Awareness Act.” The aim of the bill is to promote awareness among parents and pregnant woman of disabled with the purpose that fewer parents will opt for abortion and will choose life for their babies. It does not prohibit abortion, but it promotes to bring more awareness among such parents with aim that will not choose to abort their babies.

US legislature has approved a Kennedy- Brownback Bill which would allow pregnant women for genetic screening as well as a prenatal diagnosis so that there would be no more child-birth with serious health issues like congenital conditions. The women may have the right to decide to abort the affected fetus. According to Kennedy- Brownback Bill women have been making decisions about abortion, they may have desired pregnancy on the abnormal report of prenatal testing. If the restrictions are imposed upon abortion of disabled fetuses legally then the question arises what would be the use and choices of the prenatal diagnostic testing system? (Ethical considerations in prenatal diagnosis, 1993).

Being human beings, we may ask ourselves these questions in such a cynical way, “Are we on a search-and-destroy mission to wipe out certain groups of people?” When prenatal screen tests are showing such reports of the disabled or affected fetuses, having serious syndromes, the public would like to eliminate such groups of unborn individuals, who may be deaf, mum, blind, or suffering some serious diseases like heart problem or mental impairment. If we don’t want any more growth of disabled babies, what would be influences and justifications of this prenatal testing (Dilemmas of prenatal testing, 2008). The aim of Kennedy- Brownback Bill is to stop such Eugenic abortion and promote life of such children.

In western countries, prenatal diagnosis testing has been widely acceptable as preventive measures against the severity of disabled child birth. The pregnant women prefer the protection of fetus. According to Roman Catholic dogmas, human life is too sacred and there should be prohibition by strict legislation to prevent the individuals from taking any autonomous decision to terminate the pregnancy (Prenatal testing: new developments and ethical dilemmas, 2008).

According to Kennedy-Brownback Bill, the perspective of prenatal diagnosis is more helpful for the identification of high health risks to fetuses. It is very significant to create awareness in the parents about all health issues of their unborn babies. It is the right of the parents to make decisions about the termination of pregnancy and there is no more ethical dictation of any third party to deter them from doing this (Ethical debate: Refusing to provide a prenatal test: can it ever be ethical? 2006).

It is a very hottest ethical issue nowadays in the USA, where the new bill of health and social reforms is going to be approved and some people oppose prenatal testing while some prefer to go through prenatal tests for maternal care. Now it depends upon us how we take the decision and how we use predictable reporting of prenatal tests in a positive way.


  1. Prenatal testing: new developments and ethical dilemmas. Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  2. E A Gates. Ethical considerations in prenatal diagnosis. West J Med. 1993; 159(3): 391–395. Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, UCSF School of Medicine 94143-0132.
  3. Rony E Duncan, Bennett Foddy., Martin B Delatycki,. Ethical debate: Refusing to provide a prenatal test: can it ever be ethical? BMJ 2006;333:1066-1068, doi:10.1136/bmj.38950.645799.55
  4. , 2008, Web.
  5. Dilemmas of prenatal testing, 2008, retrieved from: The dilemmas of pre-natal testing by Margaret Somerville.
  6. Senators Kennedy and Brownback Team Up (2008).
  7. Kennedy-Brownback bill passes Senate committee.

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