Fetal information as shared information: using NIPT to test for adult-onset conditions.
Bowman-Smart H., Taylor-Sands M.
The possibilities of non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) are expanding, and the use of NIPT for adult-onset conditions may become widely available in the near future. If parents use NIPT to test for these conditions, and the pregnancy is continued, they will have information about the child's genetic predisposition from birth. In this paper, we argue that prospective parents should be able to access NIPT for an adult-onset condition, even when they have no intention to terminate the pregnancy. We begin by outlining the arguments against testing in such a situation, which generally apply the same considerations that apply in the predictive testing of a minor to the fetus in utero. We then contend, firstly, that there are important practical considerations that support availability of testing for prospective parents regardless of their stated intentions. Secondly, we object to the ethical equation of a fetus in utero with a minor. We base our analysis on a view of pregnancy that conceptualises the fetus as a part of the gestational parent, as opposed to the more common 'container' model of pregnancy. We suggest that fetal information is best conceptualised as shared information between the gestational parent and future child. Thus, it should be approached in similar ways as other kinds of shared information (such as genetic information with implications for family members), where a person has a claim over their own information, but should be encouraged to consider the interests of other relevant parties.