"This lifetime commitment": Public conceptions of disability and noninvasive prenatal genetic screening

Am J Med Genet A. 2016 Feb;170A(2):363-374. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.a.37459. Epub 2015 Nov 14.


Recently, new noninvasive prenatal genetic screening technologies for Down syndrome and other genetic conditions have become commercially available. Unique characteristics of these screening tests have reignited long-standing concerns about prenatal testing for intellectual and developmental disabilities. We conducted a web-based survey of a sample of the US public to examine how attitudes towards disability inform views of prenatal testing in the context of these rapidly advancing prenatal genetic screening technologies. Regardless of opinion toward disability, the majority of respondents supported both the availability of screening and the decision to continue a pregnancy positive for aneuploidy. Individuals rationalized their support with various conceptions of disability; complications of the expressivist argument and other concerns from the disability literature were manifested in many responses analyzed.

Keywords: NIPS; cell-free DNA; disability rights; down syndrome; intellectual disabilities; noninvasive prenatal screening; prenatal testing; public opinion; trisomy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aneuploidy
  • Attitude to Health
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Down Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Down Syndrome / genetics
  • Down Syndrome / psychology*
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / psychology*
  • Public Opinion*