Should Non-Invasiveness Change Informed Consent Procedures for Prenatal Diagnosis?

Health Care Analysis 19 (2):122-132 (2011)

Abstract

Empirical evidence suggests that some health professionals believe consent procedures for the emerging technology of non-invasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD) should become less rigorous than those currently used for invasive prenatal testing. In this paper, we consider the importance of informed consent and informed choice procedures for protecting autonomy in those prenatal tests which will give rise to a definitive result. We consider whether there is anything special about NIPD that could sanction a change to consent procedures for prenatal diagnosis or otherwise render informed decision-making less important. We accept the claim that the absence of risk of miscarriage to some extent lessens the gravity of the decision to test compared with invasive methods of testing. However, we also claim that the definitive nature of the information received, and the fact that the information can lead to decisions of great significance, makes NIPD an important choice. This choice should only be made by means of a rigorous and appropriately supported decision-making process (assuming that this is what the pregnant woman wants). We conclude that, on balance, consent procedures for NIPD should mirror those for invasive testing, albeit without the need to emphasise procedure-related risk

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