By Mary Szoch & Joy Zavalick
Mary Szoch is Director of the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. Joy Zavalick is Research Assistant for the Center for Human Dignity at Family Research Council. This article appeared in The Federalist on February 1, 2022.
On the day of this year’s March for Life, congressional Republicans sent a letter to Acting U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Janet Woodcock. Prompted by a recent New York Times exposé reporting that prenatal genetic screening tests are incorrect 85 percent of the time, the letter asks Woodcock whether the FDA will be taking any steps to regulate these prenatal screenings in light of the concerningly high rate of false positives.
Although the tests are often presented as being definitive, they are merely screening tools that suggest the possibility of a genetic abnormality. Tragically, after viewing results indicating the possibility of a genetic anomaly, many parents choose to abort their unborn baby, unaware of the high inaccuracy rating. The genetic testing industry knows that this happens and that its tests are wrong 85 percent of the time. Yet it keeps making them.
A prenatal exam should not determine a life, accurate or not. Before taking these tests, parents should look into whether the results will actually help their child or not. They should also consider looking into the companies profiting from the test.
Planned Parenthood’s website inconspicuously recommends that mothers discuss prenatal testing with their doctors in order “to make sure you’re healthy and that your fetus is developing normally.” Of course, the abortion giant stands to gain from convincing mothers to receive prenatal testing that will incorrectly tell many that their child will be born with painful or life-threatening conditions.
The eugenic and ableist mindset peddled by the abortion industry manipulates parents into believing it would be more merciful to end their children’s lives rather than subject them to an unknown amount of suffering caused by a genetic disorder. This creates a demand for the tests. Thus, the genetic testing industry and abortion industry both stand to profit from the other’s existence.
There are several known connections between the abortion industry and the genetic screening industry — including companies such as Natera, Labcorp, Roche, Myriad Genetics, and Quest Diagnostics — that should make everyone pause.
For example, Roche has sponsored Planned Parenthood events. Nicole Lambert, Myriad Genetics’ chief operating officer, was a volunteer at Planned Parenthood. Dr. Richard P. Lifton, an executive with Roche, participated in a study of genetic risks of cerebral palsy that was partially authored by the Shanghai Institute of Planned Parenthood Research. Notably, Planned Parenthood does not offer treatment for people with cerebral palsy; however, they do abort them.
D. Gary Gilliland and Peter Neupert are directors at Labcorp. Both have ties to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center — Gilliland receives a seven-figure salary as the president and director emeritus and Neupert served as a trustee until 2020. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center uses aborted fetal tissue donations from a Planned Parenthood in Washington state and has advocated at the federal level for the ability to use human fetal tissue in research.
Timothy M. Ring, the lead independent director of Quest Diagnostics, was also the president and director of C. R. Bard, Inc. from 2003 to 2017. During that time, the company was a donor to Planned Parenthood.
Perhaps it is merely a coincidence that high-ranking individuals at genetic testing companies are pro-abortion, and there is no actual collusion between such corporations and the abortion industry. However, when the results of prenatal genetic screening tests are wrong 85 percent of the time, it does inspire questions about the motives behind manufacturing those tests and encouraging women to continue taking them despite their inaccuracy.
Genetic screening exploits parents’ fear of the unknown and perpetuates the false mindset that children are only a blessing when they lack a diagnosis. With their 85 percent inaccuracy rate, these tests cause unnecessary distress and confusion for parents.
If the tests are more likely to be wrong than right, and the companies offering the tests are profiting by stealing parents’ peace of mind — and possibly the lives of their unborn children — then the logical conclusion is to refuse to play their game. As the referees of the medical testing industry, it is time the FDA blows the whistle.