Parenting and the Dilemma of Prenatal Diagnostics

Until the 70s, a woman who brought a disabled child into the world could expect to receive condolences. One spoke of a stroke of fate with which parents must now contend. Recent years have seen the rapid and continuing development of prenatal diagnostics which identify some of the potential handicaps suffered by unborn children. A simple blood test, the so-called Praena Test, for example, can be helpful in the early recognition of trisomy 21 (Down’s syndrome), and with trisomy 18 and 13 – although the results are never 100% certain. Nor can the test provide information concerning the degree of disability. In 2019, it will be decided whether the Praena Test is to be covered by health insurance funds.  Obviously, no diagnostic procedure can relieve parents of the responsibility of deciding whether they want to have the child or not – in cases of trisomy, 9 out of 10 couples currently decide to terminate the pregnancy.

We spend time with three couples who are facing or have already faced the difficult decision of whether or not to bring a handicapped child into the world. We accompany them through the pregnancy or after the birth itself in an attempt to learn more about what it means to have a child with disabilities.

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