Eubios Ethics Institute | Book List | TOP - Asian Bioethics in the 21st Century

Discussion of Prenatal Diagnosis

Sahin Aksoy: The first speaker in this session on Prenatal Diagnosis is Prof. Shinryo Shinagawa, our most senior participant in this conference. Are there any questions?

Leavitt:@Thank you, Shinagawa Sensei. I heard, anecdotally, that young Japanese today have a problem with irregular and highly infrequent menstrual periods. Is this true? Can you refer me to literature on the subject?

Shinagawa: The reason can be due to social reasons such as irregular diet, traffic confusion, in office trouble, and so on.

Leavitt: Can you make references to Japanese literature?

Shinagawa: Yes, I can.

Doering: You mentioned in the last part of your paper that IVF has accelerated the tendency of low birth weight in Japan. Could you explain the medical reason or other reason for this tendency. I'm very curious to hear about this because medical scientists always insist that IVF has no adverse effects.

Shinagawa: Before IVF the percentage of twinning was less than 1%. After IVF it increased because the doctors implanted many embryos. In our country less than 4 embryos are recommended. In some hospitals, so many of the babies born who were conceived by IVF weigh less than 1000 grams. It is possible to grow up the children from very low birth weight but it costs a lot of money.

Sahin Aksoy: Thank you. The next speaker is a Canadian living in Australia, Kyle Anstey. Are there any questions?

Lei: Some feminist bioethicists, like Ruth Chadwick from the U.K. argue that pre-natal diagnosis especially preimplantation diagnosis places more pressure on physician's health. It is too much emphasis on patient autonomy. This will become a duty rather than just a right for future parents. I want to know your opinion on this.

Anstey: Essentially, I think a lot of it comes down to the issue of genetic counseling. And for people with disabilities, the big question is should we just focus on improving genetic counseling by incorporating more social information about the realities of life with disabilities. Or should we be moving to towards more restrictions on the nature of the technologies we offer. Or maybe restrictions on funding of future developments of technology. I think the point is that there is a sense of pressure on parents that the mere availability of prenatal testing has some force of effect on them thinking to undergoing it or not.

Leavitt: I've been thinking how you can include in this dialogue severely mentally impaired people, premature and impaired neonates? I know a family who adopted a severely impaired girl, blind, deaf, and dumb., as an infant. She wants to live. Neonatal care unit doctors sometimes use the criteria of whether a baby is a fighter or not in determining whether to treat aggressively. I was just wondering if you would take those kinds of non-verbal communication as their way of participating in this dialogue?

Anstey: We need to consider people with severe intellectual disabilities, people with learning difficulties, what is good for them. So then the question becomes what is moral? I think that Elizabeth Ward, of the Norah Fry Institute in England has done a lot of work with people with intellectual disabilities. She also worked with people with severe disabilities. It is a very slow process of educating people just about reproduction itself before you even move on to genetics. The paper is in my references. There is some research on this.

Aksoy: Thank you very much. We have to close the session for the photograph from the conference.

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Eubios Ethics Institute | Book List | TOP - Asian Bioethics in the 21st Century