Thinking Twice About Routine Uptake of Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing: Are We Placing Undue Pressure on Expectant Parents?

Miss Isabella Holmes1

1Sydney Health Ethics, Sydney, Australia

Modern pregnancy in Australia is moving into a medicalised and technology-driven era. This has been accelerated by the introduction and increasing routinisation of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT). I will explore some of the ethically salient features these tests, particularly the effects of information overload or ‘too much choice’ on expectant parents.

NIPT is cheaper, less invasive, and more accessible than previous testing, and it generates large amounts of information. However, this information is often difficult to interpret and uncertain, it can affect how a pregnancy progresses, and it often makes decision-making more complex. While I am not opposed to the use of NIPT in pregnancy, the underlying justification for it lies in a simplistic notion of reproductive autonomy which emphasises information transfer and maximal choice. In many cases, expectant mothers may not be entirely sure as to why they are undergoing NIPT, and the context in which they are receiving their results may mean they are being overloaded with information without the resources or support to convert that data into meaningful knowledge.

In this presentation I will argue that the increased routinisation of these tests cannot be justified by merely invoking ‘reproductive autonomy’, as this gives little to no support as to why these tests have a tangible benefit for most expectant parents. In some cases, rather than contributing to reproductive autonomy, NIPT (and the choice of whether or not to use it) could actually be adding a further item onto the list of reasons pregnant women feel they are judged, critiqued or pressured by wider societyn.


Bio to come.

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