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The upcoming introduction of a blood test for prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome meets with massive resistance. The "prenatal blood test for Down syndrome is not a permitted diagnostic tool under the Genetic Diagnostics Act", according to the Federal Government Commissioner for the Disabled, Huber Hüppe.
Hüppe bases his position on a legal opinion published today by the lawyer Prof. Klaus Ferdinand Gärditz from the University of Bonn. This has classified the blood test for prenatal diagnosis of trisomy 21 as illegal, according to the Disability Representative. The Genetic Diagnostics Act "includes possible criminal consequences for such inadmissible prenatal examinations," it says in the current press release. The test discriminated against people with Down syndrome in the worst possible form, "namely in their right to life," criticized Hüppe.
Disability commissioner criticizes search for people with Down syndrome As federal representative for the interests of disabled people, Hubert Hüppe (CDU) criticized the new blood test of the company "LifeCodexx". The "PraenaTest", the development of which was funded by the Federal Government with more than 200,000 euros, serves "neither medical nor therapeutic purposes", which is in contradiction to the Genetic Diagnostics Act, because "precisely these purposes must be available for a prenatal examination", the message said of the Federal Government's Representative for the Disabled. Down syndrome, however, cannot be treated or cured. According to Hüppe, the blood test is "almost exclusively about the selection of people with Down syndrome", which amounts to discrimination in the worst form, namely the right to life. An abortion would already be carried out in more than 90 percent of cases if the prenatal diagnosis found trisomy 21 in the offspring. "With the new supposedly simpler test, there is fear that the search for people with Down syndrome will be intensified," continued Hüppe. The disability officer asked the countries to stop introducing the blood test for prenatal diagnosis of trisomy 21.
Introduction of the new blood test later this month The Constance company "LifeCodexx" plans to launch the test in July this year, whereby the procedure will initially be offered in around 20 practices and prenatal centers throughout Germany, the company spokeswoman, Elke Decker, explained to " ZEIT Online ”. Decker also emphasized the advantages of the new procedure, in which trisomy 21 is already recognized in a blood sample from the pregnant woman and the risky amniotic fluid examination is to be made redundant in many cases. The "PraenaTest" is intended for women from the twelfth week of pregnancy, for whom a striking finding was made, for example, in the course of the first trimester screening. If there is an increased risk of chromosomal changes in the embryo, the blood test can bring clarity. Until now, an amniotic fluid examination or a puncture of the mother's cake was the only diagnostic method for such high-risk pregnancies, but there was always a significant risk for the unborn child with these forms of abdominal surgery. According to the German Society for Gynecology and Obstetrics (DGGG), about ten out of every 1,000 women lose their healthy child as a result of these interventions. Prior to the blood test for prenatal diagnosis, advice from a qualified doctor is mandatory in accordance with the Genetic Diagnostics Act. The cost of the test must be borne by the patient.
Blood test questions the right to life of people with Down syndrome According to the Federal Government's Disability Representative, the mothers' new test only pretends "a less risky method of prenatal diagnosis", and not even the professional association of prenatal diagnostics established that invasive Methods like the amniotic fluid test with the blood test become superfluous. At the same time, however, "the pressure on women to have the supposedly lower-risk test carried out and to abort if there is a suspicious finding", criticized Hüppe. In his view, "women who have a child with Down syndrome will have to justify themselves even more in the future." The Federal Association for Life Assistance for People with Intellectual Disabilities came to a similar assessment, criticizing the new methods of prenatal diagnostics in March. The blood test for the early detection of trisomy 21 questions the right to live for people with Down syndrome. "Regardless of the legal assessment, the Bundesvereinigung Lebenshilfe considers the so-called Präna-Test highly problematic", emphasized the Federal Chairman of the Lebenshilfe, Robert Antretter, and added: "We have long been calling for an ethical debate about new prenatal test procedures and more information about trisomy 21 . "
Prenatal diagnostics as a whole in criticism Contrary to the assessment of the Federal Government's Disability Representative and the Federal Association for Life Assistance for People with Intellectual Disabilities, the German Society for Gynecology and Obstetrics sees the new test as “no ethical dam break”, because existing methods such as amniotic fluid examination would become same purpose. According to the DGGG, there is no fear of a sudden increase in pregnancy conflicts. The President of the German Medical Association, Frank Ulrich Montgomery, even sees clear advantages in the new test and explained that the current criticism is more about "the prenatal diagnosis and its consequences as a whole" than the actual effects of the blood test. To this end, however, the results of the Ethics Council should be awaited, which is currently working on behalf of the Federal Government on the open questions relating to genetic diagnostics and will prepare an opinion. (fp)
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