Recent breakthoughs in pre-natal diagnosis raise serious ethical questions, notes an article in the journal Nature Reviews Genetics by German doctors. It now seems possible to detect foetal problems with just a sample of the mother’s blood. Sequenom, an American company, plans to release its test later this year.
Women will probably be offered this test routinely in the first trimestre. Doctors will offer them the opportunity to abort the child if it has Down syndrome or other defects. But this might "reduce the reproductive autonomy of the woman". The authors foresee that women might not be able to make informed choices because they will be under intense emotional pressure to choose an abortion.