ALVEDA KING: End Deceptive Prenatal Testing That Leads To Abortions

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Alveda King Contributor
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Last weekend, thousands of Americans came to Washington, D.C., for the March for Life events, including an annual rally attended by thousands, to end abortions in the United States. The right-to-life movement may be among the most important social justice causes facing the nation. After all, we are speaking out for the unborn who have no voice.

While we are hopeful that this year that the U.S. Supreme Court will overturn Roe v. Wade, there are many fronts to fight on in the pro-life movement. Point of fact: The New York Times recently revealed a little-discussed issue that should be a priority for all pro-life Americans.

The NYT piece “When They Warn of Rare Disorders, These Prenatal Tests Are Usually Wrong” revealed that the prenatal tests used by expecting parents to test for rare diseases and disorders deliver false results at an alarming rate. And the truly horrifying part is that expecting parents sometimes decide to abort their unborn babies based on this faulty science.

The NYT discovered that some of the most misleading tests are for microdeletions, which are “small missing snippets” of the babies’ chromosomes. According to the investigation, false positives for a condition called a 1p36 deletion, which can “cause seizures, low muscle tone and intellectual disability” occurred 84% of the time. Another test for Prader-Willi and Angelman syndromes was wrong 93% of the time.

One watchdog group has already written a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) asking the agency to investigate whether or not a company that makes these tests was misleading investors, according to Fox Business. The company in question, Natera, denied all of these allegations.

The most chilling part of the NYT report was this revelation:

The companies have known for years that the follow-up testing doesn’t always happen. A 2014 study found that 6 percent of patients who screened positive obtained an abortion without getting another test to confirm the result. That same year The Boston Globe quoted a doctor describing three terminations following unconfirmed positive results.

The worst part is that to some it seems that some health care professionals fully understand just how useless these tests are, but they don’t dissuade expecting parents from using these tests because it is big business. An obstetrician and geneticist at the University of San Francisco quoted in the NYT article said that giving these tests was “purely a marketing thing.”

The NYT interviewed 14 different sets of expecting parents who said they received faulty tests. Of course, those individuals told the Times that the “experience was agonizing.” My heart breaks for those families, and I pray their children are now thriving.

This exposé causes some to wonder about whether or not Natera and the other companies that sell these prenatal tests are preying on the anxiety and fears of expecting parents and their families. Anyone who has ever carried a child, or been married to or in a relationship with an expecting mother, knows just how vulnerable that woman is during those stressful months.

At a time when our health care system should be doing everything it can to help a new mother carry her pregnancy to term, we should not allow businesses – and the doctors and hospitals who also profit from these worthless tests – to undermine a new mother’s confidence.

Just as the Hyde Amendment blocks the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, it would be helpful for lawmakers to pass legislation or regulations to ensure that neither taxpayers nor health insurers cover these misleading prenatal tests.

After all, there is no higher calling than to speak out for the unborn.

Alveda C. King is a radio, print and television commentator and founder of speakforlife.org