Although prenatal screening is routinely undertaken as part of a woman's antenatal care, the ethics surrounding it are complex. In this paper, the author examines the Jewish position on the permissibility of several tests, including those for Down's syndrome and Tay-Sachs disease, the latter being especially common in the Jewish community. Clearly, the status of the tests depends on whether termination of affected pregnancies is allowed, and contemporary rabbinical authorities are themselves in dispute as to the permissibility of terminating affected pregnancies. The nature of these arguments is examined and the author concludes that there are grounds on which the full range of prenatal screening is permitted in Jewish law.
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