Ethical and Legal Aspects of Noninvasive Prenatal Genetic Diagnosis

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 124(2) (February 2014): 181-184

4 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2014

See all articles by Bernard Dickens

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

The new technology that will allow genetic testing of a fetus within the first trimester of pregnancy by isolating cell-free fetal DNA (cffDNA) in the mother's blood raises a range of ethical and legal issues. Considered noninvasive, this test is safe and reliable, and may avoid alternative genetic testing by amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling, which risks causing spontaneous abortion. Ethical and legal issues of cffDNA testing will become more acute if testing expands to fetal whole-genome sequencing. Critical issues include the state of the science or diagnostic art; the appropriateness of offering the test; the implications of denying the test when it is available and appropriate; disclosure and counseling following test results; and management of patients' choices on acquiring test results. A challenge will be providing patients with appropriate counseling based on up-to-date genetic knowledge, and accommodating informed patients' legal choices.

Keywords: Cell-free fetal DNA testing, Ethics of fetal testing, Fetal genetic diagnosis, Genetic counseling, Noninvasive fetal testing, Termination of pregnancy, Whole-genome sequencing

JEL Classification: I10, I12, I18, J13, K10, K32, K30

Suggested Citation

Dickens, Bernard, Ethical and Legal Aspects of Noninvasive Prenatal Genetic Diagnosis (2014). International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 124(2) (February 2014): 181-184. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2379690

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4849 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

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