The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a statement warning of the “risks associated with non-invasive prenatal screening tests.” The statement reads:
"While genetic non-invasive prenatal screening tests are widely used today, these tests have not been reviewed by the FDA and may be making claims about their performance and use that are not based on sound science." "Without proper understanding of how these tests should be used, people may make inappropriate health care decisions regarding their pregnancy. We strongly urge patients to discuss the benefits and risks of these tests with a genetic counselor or other health care provider prior to making decisions based on the results of these tests."
Of course, by “inappropriate health care decisions,” the FDA likely means the decision to kill an unborn child.
The statement continues:
"Many laboratories offering these tests advertise their tests as 'reliable' and 'highly accurate,' offering 'peace of mind' for patients. The FDA is concerned that these claims may not be supported with sound scientific evidence."
This simple acknowledgment that these tests are not approved by the FDA and their inaccuracy could be leading to abortions that otherwise would not take place comes as a welcome surprise — especially since this is the same agency that just months ago loosened health and safety protocols governing chemical abortion pills despite evidence that these pills are unsafe for pregnant mothers. Although it is riddled with euphemisms and disingenuous word choices, the FDA statement will likely decrease the number of abortions that occur in the United States. However, the FDA is far from adopting a philosophy of respect for life.
In its statement, the FDA also writes:
"Conditions caused by a missing chromosome or an extra copy of a chromosome are more common and may be easier to detect, such as Down syndrome, which can cause physical and intellectual challenges. A missing or extra piece of a chromosome may result in rarer conditions, such as DiGeorge syndrome, which can cause heart defects, feeding difficulties, immune system problems, and learning difficulties.…Pregnant people have ended pregnancies based on the results of genetic prenatal screening alone, without understanding the limitations of the screening tests and that the fetus may not have the genetic abnormality identified by the screening test."
The failure to acknowledge that only women can be pregnant is not the only problem with this statement. It implies that if the tests were correct — if the unborn child had the genetic abnormalities indicated by the tests — the decision to kill the unborn child would not be “inappropriate.” Although not explicitly stated, the subtext of this statement is that the FDA sees nothing wrong with eugenic abortions.
Sadly, other parts of the world have accepted eugenic abortions as well. For example, in multiple countries, nearly every unborn baby prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome is aborted, and in Western countries, around 95 percent of babies prenatally diagnosed with a severe form of spina bifida are aborted.
The FDA is correct; many — including the authors of the statement — do not understand “the limitations of the screening tests.” A screening test may be able to tell parents if their child is at greater risk of a genetic abnormality. Further testing may be able to state more conclusively if a child is at risk of having a genetic abnormality. But no test can measure the worth of a child. No test can predict the love, joy, and suffering a child will endure. No test can predict the impact a child will have on the world.
Although the pro-life community should be grateful for the lives that will be saved as a result of the FDA’s warning, the fight against eugenics must continue. As long as abortion is legal in the United States, people with disabilities will be targeted in the womb. Every life has equal dignity and worth. We must pray for the day when our laws reflect that fact by completely protecting life.
Mary Szoch is the Family Research Council's Center for Human Dignity director.
Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared on Family Research Council.