“Liberal Republican” William Saletan, a columnist for Slate who frequently criticizes the Christian Right, has written a column about a woman in the United Kingdom who screened her embryos for the breast cancer gene. Using language that sounds like someone from the “Religious Right,” he criticizes the euphemisms employed to justify eugenics
“We now call such tests ‘preconception.’ This is the next step in our gradual devaluation of embryos,” Saletan reflected. Early embryos were termed “pre-embryos” to make it more acceptable to use them in scientific experiments, and now we change the meaning of the word conception.
“Don’t fret about the six eggs we fertilized, rejected, and flushed in selecting this baby. They were never really conceived. In fact, they weren’t embryos,” Saletan continued.
He then went on to point out that if the child had been conceived naturally she would have had a 50% chance of inheriting the defective gene. Then, if she did inherit the gene there would be a risk of breast cancer of 50% – 85%, and even then it could be detected and cured.
“Embryo screening is advancing from guaranteed, fatal childhood disease to potential, survivable adult diseases,” Saletan lamented.
The ZENIT article, iinked above, which summarizes Saletan’s comments also discusses plans for a prenatal test for autism, a Scottish center that will prescreen babies for diseases ranging from cancer to cystic fibrosis, and a possible prenatal paternity test so women can abort babies before men find out they’ve cheated.
The Jan. 3 edition of the Daily Mail featured an article by one Victoria Lambert, who expressed her deep regret for aborting a child who was diagnosed prenatally with Patau’s syndrome (trisomy 13). “Put simply: my decision and its consequences have tortured me for the past nine years.” Lambert said that, when she was finally able to carry a baby after several miscarriagse, she was so grateful that she refused all pre-screening tests.