UNFAITHFUL WIVES OPT FOR PRENATAL PATERNITY TESTS
PATERNITY tests are being carried out by DNA laboratories on children while they are still in the womb, enabling their mothers to abort them if they are the result of an extramarital affair.
The service, known as a prenatal paternity test, is being used by hundreds of British women every year, according to one of the laboratories performing it.
Most of the women opting for it have had affairs and are anxious to know whether the child they are carrying was fathered by their partner or their illicit lover.
Some DNA laboratories are refusing to perform the prenatal paternity test, insisting that it is unethical – a view echoed by anti-abortion campaign groups. Invasive procedures are necessary for testing, raising the risk of a miscarriage and health problems for the mother.
It is the latest ethical difficulty to hit the burgeoning business of private DNA testing. At least 20,000 tests are believed to be carried out each year in Britain.
Academic research shows many fathers are right to wonder about their children’s provenance: one in 25 unwittingly raises another man’s offspring.
One company, DNA Solutions, acknowledges that some of the women using its prenatal test – which costs at least £234 ($494) – will probably go on to have terminations if the baby is shown to have the “wrong” father.
Marketing director Dan Leigh said the company was performing up to 500 prenatal paternity tests in Britain each year.
The practice was even more prevalent in the US, he said. There had been “a few cases in the US that had resulted in abortion”, though not necessarily involving DNA Solutions.
Mr Leigh conceded that if a woman took a test and it showed that her unborn child was not her husband’s, she might want an abortion to conceal her infidelity.
Under British law, DNA tests can be carried out only if the person whose cells are being scrutinised has given written permission. “If she had an affair with someone and she was pregnant and she went for a prenatal test, she could ask the guy she had the affair with and then compare the result with his profile,” Mr Leigh said.
To extract a usable sample for testing, the pregnant woman must undergo either chorionic villus sampling, which is carried out between the 11th and 18th week of gestation, or, as is more commonly the case, amniocentesis, which is done slightly later.
Mark Pursglove, international operations manager for International Biosciences in Sussex, said his company also offered prenatal paternity tests, but only as a last resort.
Mr Leigh defended the service: “I think the truth should be out there. If you are raising a family, as a father you have every right to know.”
The Sunday Times
Daniel Foggo | January 26, 2009
Article from: The Australian