Chapter-20 Legal and Ethical Issues of Prenatal Diagnosis and Therapy

BOOK TITLE: An Introduction to Genetics and Fetal Medicine

1. Walke Dilip
Publishing Year
Author Affiliations
1. Medipoint Hospital, Pune, Fogsi Medicolegal Committee; Medipoint Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra, India, Medipoint Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra, India, Ethical and Medicolegal Committee, FOGSI, Pune, India, Association of Maharashtra Obstetric and Gynecological Society (AMOGS), Medicolegal Cell, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India; Pune, Maharashtra, India, Aster Medipoint Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra, India, Medipoint Hospital, Jupiter Hospital, Pune, Maharashtra, India; Pune Obstetric and Gynecological, Society (POGS), Jupiter Hospital and Aster Medipoint,Pune, Maharashtra, India
Chapter keywords


Prenatal diagnosis has become an established service in the care of pregnant women to diagnose genetic problems in the growing fetus. The idea is to enable the couple to either plan timely medical or surgical treatment before or soon after delivery or to decide on termination in case the growing fetus is diagnosed to be having a congenital defect. The first major initiative taken by World Health Organization was in the form of a comprehensive document on “Genomics and World Health” released in Geneva on 30th April, 2002; which laid the foundation for building up a new discipline—”Ethical, legal and Social Issues of Genomics”. Concerned about potential misuse of detailed genetic information, NIH in 1992 created the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications Branch of the project, which receives 3% of the multimillion-dollar genome budget. Since then a lot of discussion and debates all over the world have started. Fetal medicine is now well-established and offers a range of diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. However, the maternal-fetal relationship is unique because access to the fetus is through the pregnant woman. As a result, fetal evaluation and therapy have created a variety of ethical questions about a physician’s responsibility when the interests of a pregnant woman and her fetus appear to be in conflict. Fetal therapy poses a potential conflict between the pregnant woman\'s own best interests (as fetus can be approached only through the mother), and her (and others\') perception of the best interests of her fetus.

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