Manual of Catholic Medical Ethics – Chapter IV

on-line edition as of 2023 edited by Willem J. cardinal Eijk, MD PhD STL, Lambert J.M. Hendriks, PhD STD and prof FransJ. van Ittersum, MD PhD MSc

Ⓒ Katholieke Stichting Medische Ethiek 2014 - 2024

IV.1.5 Preventive Medicine

1.5.3 Prenatal diagnostics and preventive medicine

In both public, official and scientific parlance, prenatal diagnostics is also often referred to as preventive diagnostics. The ethical aspects of this have been dealt with in Chapter II.4.2.1. However, there is much to be said against this. In general, prenatal diagnostics does not concern the prevention of diseases that may occur later, but the early detection of abnormalities that are already there, but without the application of prenatal diagnostics would only manifest themselves at or after birth. It is, therefore, incorrect to classify prenatal diagnostics under preventive medicine. Prenatal diagnostics may in some cases be useful for intrauterine surgical intervention even before birth to prevent the serious consequences of certain conditions and also to be able to take the required measures immediately after birth. Prenatal diagnosis, however, generally does not involve treatment of the abnormality or condition found, but rather proceeds to abortion provocatus, an intrinsically evil act, when the unborn child is diagnosed with an abnormality (see Chapter II,4).