Freezing eggs as a precaution to be able to get pregnant later - at a time when the natural egg reserves are exhausted? Or have a simple blood test to check whether there is a chromosomal abnormality in the unborn child, such as Down's syndrome? These two examples show what modern medicine has to offer in the field of reproductive medicine today.
Who is driving these developments? Does medicine create more and more opportunities to be taken up simply because they are "there"? Or is medicine responding to a social demand?
Medical services should always be seen in the context of social developments - and can, in turn, have an impact on them. "What is common and widely accepted in society in prenatal examinations is also influenced by how "simple" and methodically risk-free its application is," says Prof. Dr. Christiane Woopen, a medical ethicist at the University of Cologne and Chairwoman of the European Ethics Council. "The social consequences that this may have and the potentially serious conflicts associated with the results for the pregnant woman may fade into the background increasingly".
How is an "increased risk" defined in pregnancy, when the spectrum of diagnoses ranges from mild to severe impairments for the unborn child? Is the pressure to have a "normal" child increasing? And what if the question of abortion arises?
In addition, there are the social conditions in which people decide to have children. With permanent employment contracts and/or family-friendly employers, having a family is less risky than in a professional environment where the mere announcement of parental leave already leads to a lasting mood of annoyance among superiors.
More security could be provided through a wide range of local support services for a life with children: an infrastructure designed for families with a sufficient number of daycare places, sports clubs, playgrounds, and cultural activities. And in the event that a child with disabilities is born, it needs not only individual but also political and social willingness to welcome and accept it.
The discussion paper "Planbare Schwangerschaft -Perfektes Kind?" published on February 13th, 2019 by the Leopoldina in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation deals with the various facets of this topic.
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