N108: Transition to the Registered Professional Nurse Role Study Guide Effects of Technologic l Advances Prenatal Testing Before 1970, there was no ability to test a fetus for genetic problems. A major breakthrough in our ability to detect genetic abnormalities in the fetus occurred in the 1970s with the development of techniques to carry out amniocentesis. This has created a different dimension in abortion debates. Amniocentesis involves aspirating and analyzing amniotic fluid and is performed at 14 to 20 weeks gestation. From the cells, many genetic problems of the fetus can be diagnosed prenatally, including such conditions as Down Syndrome, hemophilia, muscular dystrophy, and problems related to the brain and spinal column. Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) involves securing a sample of chorionic villi from the developing placenta and can be performed at 10 to 11 weeks. Chroionic villus sampling can be performed earlier than amniocentesis and can be used to detect the presence of birth defects and certain diseases. The fully informed woman can then decide whether to plan for the birth or terminate the pregnancy. Genetic screening makes it possible to determine whether persons are predisposed to certain diseases and whether a couple might have the possibility of giving birth to a genetically impaired child. In Vitro Fertilization When a woman cannot conceive because of blocked fallopian tubes, the ova may be removed, combined with sperm, and then implanted into the uterus. Some important things to consider and ask if involved in this particular ethical issue include: • What happens to the extra fertilized ova? • Whose child is it when it is born? • Does the infant have a right to know who his/her genetic parents are? Abortion Abortion is the termination of pregnancy before viability of the fetus, any time before the sixth month of gestation. There are different types of abortions that include the following: spontaneous, which occurs as a result of natural causes, therapeutic, which is performed for medically necessary reasons, and elective termination of a pregnancy for the woman’s private reasons. The legal aspects of abortion were set forth on January 22, 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Roe versus Wade that no state laws can prohibit or restrict a woman’s right to obtain an abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. A privacy right exists that allows an individual woman to make the final decision with regard to what happens to her own body. • Pro-life: People who are pro-life are for the legal protection of human embryos and fetuses, especially by favoring the outlawing of abortion on the ground that it is taking of a human life. Pro-life believes that the government has an obligation to preserve all human life, regardless of intent, viability, or quality of life concerns. The pro-life movement argues that even non- viable, undeveloped human life is sacred and must be protected by the government. Abortion, according to this model, must not be legal, nor should it be widely practiced on an illegal basis.