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Our readers asked:

Should I Have the Test to Find Out My Child’s DNA Map?

Charles C. Camosy, PhD Answers:

There is a new non-invasive procedure (a blood test or urine sample from parents) that allows pregnant parents to reveal the child’s DNA map before birth. This could discover illnesses in the child and prepare new mothers for the challenges ahead. Is this procedure okay?

In the abstract there is nothing wrong with this procedure, and it could be a beneficial and morally praiseworthy choice if it was directed at the benefit of the child. For instance, a couple worried that that they were particularly susceptible to having a child with genetic disease might need to save money to be able to provide medical care and otherwise prepare for this possibility. Their being prepared would not only benefit the family as a whole, but it would benefit the child as well.

However, in practice, this procedure is often used in a way such that is not aimed at the best interest of the child. Quite the contrary: many times it results even in the child’s death. For instance, over 90% of babies who are diagnosed with Down syndrome in utero are aborted. These practices play into our culture’s tragic (and ever-growing) understanding of our youngest children as mere objects to do with as we please. Even by using the very word “reproduction” (as opposed to procreation) we signal that our children are “products” that are subject to all the kinds of quality-control that a free market demands for savvy customers. This, according to the Catholic Church, is a fundamental misunderstanding of the value of our children—and puts vulnerable populations (in this case the disabled and the very young) at risk of marginalization and violence.

 
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The Author : Charles C. Camosy, PhD
Charlie Camosy is assistant professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University where he has been since finishing his Ph.D. in theology at Notre Dame in 2008. His book Too Expensive to Treat? Finitude, Tragedy, and the Neonatal ICU (Eerdmans, 2010) was honored at the 2011 Catholic Media Association awards. Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization was released with Cambridge University Press in May of 2012. Charlie is also the founder and co-director of the Catholic Conversation Project and a member of the ethics committee at the Children's Hospital of New York.
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