Moral ambivalence. A comment on non-invasive prenatal testing from an ethical perspective

J Perinat Med. 2021 May 24;49(8):949-952. doi: 10.1515/jpm-2021-0194. Print 2021 Oct 26.


Background: Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) has been available for almost 10 years. In many countries the test attracted considerable criticism from the start. While most critical comments in this context deal with the (alleged) problem of eugenic selection, I will concentrate on a somewhat broader issue.

Content: I will argue that NIPT clearly has the potential to increase reproductive autonomy and benefit expectant parents. However, NIPT can also put people in a situation that is morally overwhelming for them and from which there is no easy way out. In this sense, such tests can have a dilemma-generating effect.

Summary and outlook: I will conclude that this can be adequately described by the term "moral ambivalence".

Keywords: genetic counceling; moral ambivalence; moral dilemma; non-invasive prenatal genetic testing.

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Morals*
  • Noninvasive Prenatal Testing / ethics*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Pregnancy