New York Times Article Shows Prenatal Disability Testing to be Abhorrently Inaccurate

The New York Times (NYT) published an article earlier this year which highlighted the shockingly inaccurate nature of many prenatal tests that seek to determine whether or not a child will be born with a disability. In the studies cited, the majority of these tests would be shown to be far more erroneous than they were accurate. This can quickly create a life-threatening situation where mothers are sometimes encouraged to choose elective abortions based on the results of their tests – the likes of which one mother felt as mentioned in this article.

Some of these tests were checking for abnormalities as common as DiGeorge syndrome (1 in 4,000 births), or a 1p36 deletion, which is a genetic mutation (1 in 5,000 births). Despite how common these abnormalities are, the tests had an abysmal accuracy of only 19% and 16% respectively. This is not even considering that the other three tests investigated by NYT had accuracies as disappointingly low as 7%. In other words, these tests give a false positive to women more than 9 out of 10 times. 

Disappointingly, according to unnamed “experts”, there exists “no single threshold for how often a test needs to get positive results right to be worth offering” and the true intentions of these tests seem to be “little more than bolstering testing companies’ bottom lines.”

The article does touch on the stories of some expectant mothers who were extremely distressed to hear about these false diagnoses, some of whom considered seeking an elective abortion because of the test results. What is not mentioned, however, is that the devastation of committing an abortion is far worse than the distress of a diagnosis – which is definitely difficult to hear. 

The difference lies in choosing Life, or choosing death. Few can imagine the immense regret and sadness that a mother might feel, a mother who had an abortion out of fear after a false positive test result only to find out the truth shortly after through the results of follow-up testing.

What these testing and pharmaceutical companies don’t acknowledge is the emotional pain their egregiously inaccurate tests bring to so many women. When facing such a test result many would be understandably distressed, and in this arduous situation anti-Life organizations like Planned Parenthood seek to take advantage of women and pressure them into undergoing elective abortions. 

The lives of these children—no matter what any test results say—are inherently valuable and worth protecting. If we already hold discrimination on the basis of disability to be illegal and immoral among those of us who are born, why should we allow this among unborn children regardless of the accuracy of these test results? This article serves to illustrate a fantastic point: there are too many variables and uncertainties for us to allow mankind to play god and hold power over Life and death. The consequences of committing an abortion will always be greater than the difficulty of a diagnosis. 

Even if these testing methods were perfectly accurate, our responsibility to embrace these vulnerable lives and walk with them in the best way possible, even if they have a life-limiting condition or disability does not change. Life is always the better choice. Choosing Life means trusting in God rather than in flimsy, untrustworthy, and unnecessary testing that continually lines the pockets of the greedy at the expense of so many women.

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