Medico-Legal Issues in Prenatal Genetic Diagnosis

  • Aubrey Milunsky


The essential thrust and philosophy of prenatal genetic diagnosis is to provide the opportunity to parents at risk to selectively have unaffected offspring. Utilizing current indications for amniocentesis approximately 95% of all studies reveal an un-affected fetus (1, 2). The need to consider therapeutic abortion only arises in about 5% of cases. This emphasis focuses on the point that these studies secure the birth of children that would ordinarily not even have been born, in contrast to the probably smaller number in which abortion would be a considered option. The aim of prenatal studies is to detect serious or fatal genetic defect in the fetus, and not to determine carrier status. Indeed all of us are carriers of 4–8 deleterious genes, and any such goal would therefore be regarded as simply absurd.


Prenatal Diagnosis Therapeutic Abortion Selective Abortion Amniotic Fluid Sample Healthy Fetus 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aubrey Milunsky
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.The Eunice Kennedy Shriver CenterHarvard Medical SchoolUSA
  2. 2.Massachusetts General HospitalUSA

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