Eugenics? As embryo screening opens-wide the door to manipulate human traits, notions of normalcy and deviancy, fitness and disability, are changing

With the dramatic expansion of new blood tests, many more pregnant mothers are testing their fetuses for ‘defects’ such as Down syndrome.

NIFTY is a simple blood test that can pick up Down syndrome and an array of other genetic conditions, including relatively rare ones such as cri du chat syndrome and conditions known by obscure numbers like 1p36 deletion syndrome and 16p12.2-p11.2 duplication syndrome.

A number of other similar products, like Harmony Prenatal Test and Verifi, are also available in the international marketplace. These prenatal screening tools have already ushered in a new era of consumer choice in reproductive medicine.

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Increasingly, in the US and China, all expectant mothers are being encouraged to undergo prenatal genetic screening. As the reach of DNA tests quietly expands, ideas about normalcy and deviancy, fitness and disability are subtly changing.

Technologists, prospective parents, and policymakers all now have the opportunity to make new choices and to accept new responsibilities. Creating a safe space for a child with a mental disability or a boy with Klinefelter syndrome who might look androgynous can involve a lifelong commitment of love and care. It is possible to selectively embrace these technologies while pushing back against what seem to be preordained courses of action.

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