Many Prenatal Genetic Tests Are Wrong 85% of the Time

The New York Times reports that many supposedly “reliable” and “highly accurate” prenatal tests report inaccurate results, influencing abortion decisions.

by Ken Ham on January 27, 2022
Featured in Ken Ham Blog

More than one-third of pregnant women in the United States will opt for a simple blood draw fairly early in their pregnancy. That vial will be sent off for prenatal genetic testing to screen for a wide variety of chromosomal abnormalities, including extremely rare conditions. Sadly, some women will make life-ending decisions for their babies based on these screens—but, according to a recent exposé by the very pro-abortion The New York Times, many of these tests are wrong 85%–95% of the time!

These tests, which typically advertise themselves as “‘reliable’ and ‘highly accurate,’ offering ‘total confidence’ and ‘peace of mind,’” look for “missing snippets of chromosomes” (called microdeletions). Prenatal testing is a $600 million to perhaps billion-dollar industry, and “the number of women taking these tests is expected to double by 2025.” But, apparently, for “every 15 times they correctly find a problem . . . they are wrong 85 times” (and some of these tests have an even higher rate of error at 95%!).

The New York Times explains:

The tests initially looked for Down syndrome and worked very well. But as manufacturers tried to outsell each other, they began offering additional screenings for increasingly rare conditions.

The grave predictions made by those newer tests are usually wrong [especially for less common conditions].

They continue:

Patients who receive a positive result are supposed to pursue follow-up testing, which often requires a drawing of amniotic fluid or a sample of placental tissue. Those tests can cost thousands of dollars, come with a small risk of miscarriage and can’t be performed until later in pregnancy — in some states, past the point where abortions are legal.

The companies have known for years that the follow-up testing doesn’t always happen. A 2014 study found that 6 percent of patients who screened positive obtained an abortion without getting another test to confirm the result.

If these tests were 100% accurate, would it be okay to end the life of an unborn child? Absolutely not.

So, women are ending the lives of their own children over genetic testing results—results that are very likely wrong! How horrifying.

But if these tests were 100% accurate, would it be okay to end the life of an unborn child because it was for certain they would be born with a disability or chromosomal abnormality? Absolutely not. Think of it this way. The New York Times opened its article with this story,

After a year of fertility treatments, Yael Geller was thrilled when she found out she was pregnant in November 2020. Following a normal ultrasound, she was confident enough to tell her 3-year-old son his “brother or sister” was in her belly.

But a few weeks later, as she was driving her son home from school, her doctor’s office called. A prenatal blood test indicated her fetus might be missing part of a chromosome, which could lead to serious ailments and mental illness.

Sitting on the couch that evening with her husband, she cried as she explained they might be facing a decision on terminating the pregnancy. He sat quietly with the news. “How is this happening to me?” Ms. Geller, 32, recalled thinking.

The next day, doctors used a long, painful needle to retrieve a small piece of her placenta. It was tested and showed the initial result was wrong. She now has a 6-month-old, Emmanuel, who shows no signs of the condition he screened positive for.

Suppose instead of receiving the news that her unborn son, Emmanuel, might be born “missing part of a chromosome,” Geller was contacted by the hospital and found out her three-year-old was involved in a serious car accident. He would live, but he would face life-long problems and was likely permanently disabled. Would her first conversation with her husband have been about killing her three-year-old because of his diagnosis? Of course not! So why is it acceptable to discuss killing a child because he might be born with a disability or abnormality? It’s a complete and utter double standard that only exists because our culture has chosen to arbitrarily redefine when a human life begins. We live during a time when generations have been indoctrinated to look on humans as just animals instead of the fact all humans are made in the image of God.

Every human life has value. It’s not because of perceived “quality of life,” what they can contribute to society, the parent’s ideals, or anything else. No—human life has value because each life is created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), fearfully and wonderfully made (and, yes, that includes those with a chromosomal abnormality as a result of the effects of our sin in this now fallen world). Abortion at any stage is taking the life of a person made in God’s image and it is murder. And God hates hands that shed innocent blood (Proverbs 6:16–19).

We must stand for the most vulnerable: unborn children. Get equipped to do just this with our ongoing article series, “Prenatal Development: Life of an Unborn Baby.” This series highlights what is happening in the womb at each stage of development and answers apologetics questions regarding the sanctity of life along the way. It’s a very powerful series!

And it’s not too late to attend our pro-life conference taking place at the Ark Encounter this Friday, January 28, 2022, south of Cincinnati. “Life Is Precious” will answer several common questions surrounding this tragic “debate”:

  • When does life begin?
  • What about those with disabilities?
  • How do we help someone who has chosen abortion?

You will be equipped to defend a biblically pro-life view as well as discover practical tools to help others with teaching sessions from Dr. Georgia Purdom, Stacia McKeever, Camille Cates, and me. Register today.

Get More Answers on Answers News

This item was discussed yesterday on Answers News with cohosts Rob Webb, Bodie Hodge, and Roger Patterson. Answers News is our twice-weekly news program filmed live before a studio audience and broadcast on my Facebook page and the Answers in Genesis Facebook page. We also covered the following topics:

  • California drops Aztec prayers from curriculum.
  • Will we sequence the genome of every complex species?
  • Has Darwin’s “abominable mystery” been solved?
  • And more!

Watch the entire episode of Answers News for January 26, 2022.

Be sure to join us each Monday and Wednesday at 2 p.m. (ET) on my Facebook page or the Answers in Genesis Facebook page for Answers News. You won’t want to miss this unique news program that gives science and culture news from a distinctly biblical and Christian perspective.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,

This item was written with the assistance of AiG’s research team.

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