Disability rights critique of prenatal genetic testing: reflections and recommendations

Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res Rev. 2003;9(1):40-7. doi: 10.1002/mrdd.10056.


Using prenatal tests to prevent the birth of babies with disabilities seems to be self-evidently good to many people. Even if the testing will not help bring a healthy baby to term this time, it gives prospective parents a chance to try again to conceive. To others, however, prenatal testing looks rather different. If one thinks about the history of our society's treatment of people with disabilities, it is not hard to see why people identified with the disability rights movement might regard such testing as dangerous. For the members of this movement, living with disabling traits need not be detrimental to an individual's prospects of leading a worthwhile life, or to the families in which they grow up, or to society at large. Although the movement has no one position on prenatal diagnosis, many of its adherents believe that public support for prenatal diagnosis and abortion based on disability contravenes the movement's basic philosophy and goals.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Eugenic
  • Bioethical Issues*
  • Decision Making
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Female
  • Fetal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn / diagnosis*
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / ethics*