by Cherrie Lou Billones from Japan Daily Press:
The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, during a board meeting, came up with guidelines for the conduct of a prenatal test which is meant to see if the fetus possesses any of the three types of chromosomal abnormalities, including Down Syndrome. The guidelines were compiled recently on Saturday, March 9, and the blood test could be available in Japan as early as April this year.
Some 20 medical institutions were already given approval by their ethical committees to perform the test; these include the National Center for Child Health and Development, Hokkaido University Hospital, Osaka University Hospital and Showa University Hospital. Before the month ends, a committee body of the Japanese Association of Medical Sciences is likely to finish with the screening of all other medical institutions that will be allowed to perform this exceptional blood test.
The guidelines are aimed to ensure that the blood test will not be used in an extremely casual manner, lest it be the cause of unethical decisions that could lead to the objectification of human life based on disabilities. Under the guidelines, the test is to be limited only to certain facilities that have sufficient provisions for counseling. It is also a requirement that full-time and certified obstetricians, gynecologists and pediatricians are employed in these medical institutions. And, only women who are pregnant at an advanced age or who have a record of fetal chromosomal abnormalities in past pregnancies may take the test.