OTTAWA, Feb. 14, 2007 The Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) has reacted with concern to the recent recommendation of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that pre-natal screening tests for genetic and other birth defects be extended to all expectant mothers.
While not rejecting such testing, which has positive value as a diagnostic tool, the League notes that as a civil rights question, patients have the right to refuse any treatment, including diagnostic tests.
There is no question that this recommendation for more pre-natal screening of all pregnant women represents a disturbing trend toward quality control in human life, says League President Phil Horgan. It conveys a powerful suggestion that the lives of the disabled, and those with genetic diseases, are less valuable than the lives of others.
It would be irresponsible to reject all pre-natal screening as being anti-life. As Catholic Office for Life and Family (COLF) points out in its statement, prenatal diagnosis demonstrates the positive advancements of science when it is employed to safeguard the life and integrity of the child and the mother, and does not place them at risk. While some parents use the results of pre-natal screening to choose abortion, others use it so that they can be offered pre-natal treatment for the unborn child, or to help them prepare to raise a child with special needs.
The League encourages prospective parents to learn as much as possible about the tests they are being offered, including the risks of the tests themselves. Doctors already keep notes of tests offered, performed or refused by the patient; we are not yet at a point where expectant mothers sign waivers indicating that testing was refused, but that step may come. In any case, patients have the right to refuse any treatment, including diagnostic tests.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org