Worse than eugenics

May 5, 2016 | Media

Myths about Down’s syndrome lead to thousands of abortions every year. A new proposal will make it even harder for parents to resist social pressure

If it were made possible, do you think Down’s syndrome should disappear from society?” Put in this stark form, the question pulls you up short. When it was posed in precisely those terms to the Dutch geneticist Hans Galjaard, a former member of the Unesco bioethics committee, it drew an equally direct reply: “Yes, that was one of my motivations,” he said.

Galjaard was talking about a new, non-invasive pre-natal testing technique. The Government is considering incorporating it into its routine screening regime during pregnancy, making this a matter of some urgency. In recent weeks campaigners have been lobbying Westminster with the aim of persuading the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, not to proceed.

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