Prenatal Bioethics, Advocacy, and the Requirement of a Third Moral Space

by David Turnbull


Well-publicised scientific advances in genetics and prenatal medicine have, over the past couple of decades, precipitated a sometimes heated discussion around prenatal diagnosis, genetic counselling and disability advocacy. Drawing on a variety of perspectives, attention is drawn here to a likely futures scenario occurring ‘downstream’ from current practices in prenatal medicine and advocacies surrounding it. The issue is not to apportion historical blame for what originates from a complex matrix of social causes and competing discourses such as medical beneficence and eugenics. The challenge is to shift the space and locus of inquiry from conflicting epistemologies and related values to questions of futures ontology. This involves a difficult transition from confrontational approaches to that of a dialogue about what it may come to mean to have been born with a disabling condition of genetic origin. The key to a third moral space is through finding apposite metaphors that open up prospects for fresh ways of thinking.

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