Saturday, December 5, 2020
News, analysis and commentary by UBC Journalism students


Prenatal genetic testing: The choice to know more

It’s a choice that many pregnant women struggle to make. How much do you need to know about your baby…


Photo courtesy of teppei1111

It’s a choice that many pregnant women struggle to make. How much do you need to know about your baby before it is born?

For some women, knowing more would not be helpful. It could be a source of stress and anxiety. For others, the results from a genetic test could be reassuring; it’s a way of knowing and being prepared for what could come. It’s a deeply personal choice. No one can tell a woman what’s right for her.

There are many factors that influence a woman’s decision on whether to have prenatal genetic testing. For starters, the science behind the tests can be difficult to understand. Then there are the ethical questions raised by the test itself. Is it discriminatory? Is it sending a message?

To explore these questions, Monica Tanaka spoke to the people whose lives are in the thick of it. She talked to pregnant women who chose to have the test, and to those who chose not to, as well as to genetic counsellors and a bioethicist. The interviews, and the process of making sense of the issues, took place over nearly six months.

[audio:https://thethunderbird.ca/html/wp-content/themes/WpAdvNewspaper/audio/MonicaTanaka.mp3]
Click to listen to the audio documentary that takes you into the lives of two pregnant women who had to make choices about prenatal genetic testing. You’ll also hear from the experts as they delve into the details that stem from the process of offering these tests.

Correction: The laboratory mentioned in the documentary is the Prenatal Biochemistry lab, not the Molecular Genetics lab, at BC Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

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