Opinion on Ethical Aspects of Prenatal Diagnosis, Group of Advisers to the European Commission on the Ethical Implications of Biotechnology, Opinion No. 6 (Feb. 20, 1995).

Own initiative.

Rapporteur: Professor Stefano Rodota



Prenatal diagnosis entails a series of techniques making it possible to make a precise diagnosis of a genetic disease or anomaly in a foetus.

The ethical problems are bound up with the responsibilities of the couple and the doctor, which are heightened by the development of prenatal diagnosis since this technique tends to increase the information available on the foetus's state of health.

It also raises questions concerning the place of disabled people in our society. The risk of misuses of prenatal diagnosis (eugenics, selection of sex or other characteristics for non-medical reasons) and the risk of disclosure or misuse of genetic information also raises ethical questions.


' Prenatal diagnosis must rely on the free and informed consent of the woman or couple concerned. No prenatal genetic testing must be imposed by law, by public health services or by any other institution or person. Tests should be done only at the request of the woman or couple after they have been fully informed, namely by genetic counselling . Careful genetic counselling, both before and after the test, and disclosure of the results of a prenatal diagnosis to the woman or couple concerned are an integral part of the prenatal diagnosis. Prenatal diagnosis should always be considered as a medical act .'

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