63 days to go…Mass appeal…Down’s babies, N.I.P.T. and the 12 week limit.

to May 25th and the referendum on whether to repeal the pro-life 8th amendment to the Irish constitution which gives equal right to life to mother and child in Ireland.  Yesterday also, the parliament passed the second stage of its abortion proposals, just one day after world Down Syndrome day.

Yesterday as with everyday, we discussed Sr. Briege McKenna’s appeal for Masses to be said privately or publicly in parishes in reparation for Ireland’s turning from God and for protection of the 8th amendment. Please consider getting Masses said locally or through this link to ACN:
http://www.acnireland.org/masses or call 01 837 7516.

Alternatively can you with other parishioners organise one or more Masses / half-days or days of prayer?

DOWN’S BABIES, N.I.P.T. and the 12 week limit

Yesterday we discussed how two Down syndrome advocacy groups were in conflict over the use of images of Irish Down’s citizens featuring in billboard campaigns, their rationales for their opposing positions and how the screening out of Down’s looks set to continue apace with Iceland (100%), Denmark(98%), the UK and Germany (90%) leading the way in abortion rates of Down’s babies.

Dr. Peter Boylan consultant obstetrician who advocates for abortion publicly has gone on the record that Down’s babies will not be at risk of abortion with the government proposals, as the diagnosis of Down’s only happens in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy after the 12 week unrestricted limit on abortion. While screening for Down’s does happen in the first 12 weeks / trimester, he states that conclusive proof can only be obtained after 12 weeks which means that babies will not be specifically aborted on the basis of their Down’s diagnosis and will be safe.

Dr Boylan and other pro choice activists say babies with Down’s are not at risk of abortion before 12 weeks here as it’s too early for a diagnosis of Down’s and are not at risk of abortion after 12 weeks as the unrestricted abortion is only to 12 weeks and there is no ground after 12 weeks for abortions of Down’s babies. 

Here’s why this is seriously questionable…

Down’s babies  ARE at risk before 12 weeks from NIPT screening tests: 

Current pre-natal screening involves what is called a combined test. That is a blood test and an ultrasound, the former at week 10, the latter at week 12 for highest accuracy. This predicts Down’s with up to 94% accuracy. But it is just that, a prediction or probability. The fact is, that a definite diagnosis of Down’s can only achieved through one of two further invasive diagnostic tests: either chorionic villus sampling CVS done from week 11/12  (a needle samples the placenta as the genetic material is the same as the baby’s) or amniocentesis ( a needle is passed into the womb to sample cells from the baby in the amniotic fluid) done around week 15/16.

The fact that definitive proof of Down’s syndrome is only possible through one of CVS or amniocentesis testing, is the rationale for pro-choice arguments that Down syndrome babies will not be at risk of abortion under the government proposals of unrestricted abortion to 12 weeks.

But this does not take into account the phenomenon of NIPT. NIPT, is a non-invasive pre-natal test, a simple blood test believed to be 99% accurate at predicting Down’s Syndrome. Different companies offer this test which costs about 450 euros in Ireland. NIPT can be done at week 9 or 10. Results are back by week 11 at the latest. This is within the limit for unrestricted medical abortions under Irish government proposals up to 12 weeks. One website offering pre-natal testing in Ireland with regards to NIPT states that: “More importantly, the number of women who are required to have invasive testing (amniocentesis or CVS, chorionic villus sampling) after undergoing NIPT is <1%. Please note that if the results of the test show high risk for one of the conditions it does not mean that the fetus definitely has the condition, although it is highly likely. So in the event of a high risk result we strongly recommend amniocentesis or CVS.”

If a woman who does not wish to have a Down syndrome baby has a positive NIPT test which is 99% accurate at predicting Down’s by 11 weeks, will she opt to wait for the invasive testing or perhaps just proceed with an abortion under the 12 week limit? Is it not likely that she might feel that statistic is enough to proceed? 

The NHS are currently evaluating NIPT to see if it can be incorporated into pre-natal screening and note that it may eventually replace current testing, becoming effectively both a screening and diagnostic test in one. While NIPT is confined to those who can pay for now, this is not negligible as private pre-natal screening centres would not be flourishing otherwise. If NIPT goes main-stream, Down’s abortions could happen in the 11th week if GP visits can be arranged.

For a beautiful view if you haven’t already seen these two videos of how life with Down’s syndrome can be, have a look at the following:

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