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German ethics commission disparages routine PND (prenatal diagnostics):

This article was originally published in Clinica

Executive Summary

Over the past two decades, prenatal diagnostics (PND) have become a routine procedure within the German health system. Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, the Social Democratic (SPD) speaker of the parliamentary "rights and ethics of modern medicine" commission believes that the rise could lead to genetic selection, particularly if in the future easily accessible DNA chips were to be made available. In 1976 the sickness funds agreed to reimburse PND and since then the number of procedures has risen from 1,796 in 1976 to 68,267 in 1997. Dr Wodarg acknowledges that the rise has come as a result of doctors' obligations to inform parents about cystic fibrosis and an increase in the demand for ultrasound scans by pregnant women. The problem is that if no ultrasound scan is carried out, then the doctor will not be able to claim reimbursement for assisting a pregnancy, as the sickness funds would say that he had not carried out the necessary procedures.

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