NICE, the organisation which determines clinical standards with the rather Orwellian name, is very keen on ante-natal screening and wishes to expand the current range of tests. Doctors are not encouraged to be upfront about the reasons for such an emphasis on ante-natal screening; (there is little or no clinical benefit to the baby from scans and there is also growing evidence to show that babies do not like them). However, policy makers are clear that the agenda is eugenic. A great deal of money is spent on ante-natal screening and there have been calls for even more investment in this area. It is argued, that doing so would save the NHS money in the long run as the system would not have to cater for so many people with learning difficulties if their mothers could simply be persuaded to terminate their pregnancies. The existing set of tests already leads to many mothers and fathers feeling unable to relax and enjoy the prospect of their developing child until and unless given a complete guarantee by a doctor that all is well, a guarantee which can of course never be forthcoming.  The tests themselves also result in many false positives; “In a 2000 study of 300 foetal autopsies only 39%”confirmed the pre-natal hypothesis” (Dominic Lawson 23rd May 2006)… What is happening across the so called civilised world is that..doctors are pressuring women at their most vulnerable into taking a decision which conforms to the prejudices of the medical establishment rather than to the vital maternal instinct called unconditional love” (Dominic Lawson referring to Defiant Birth-Women who resist Medical Eugenics by Lisa Green, in the Independent 23rd May 2006).There is as yet no legal compulsion with ante-natal screening but with this and other health care issues, that is the direction in which we seem to be moving.  “An embryo is not yet a person… Crucially, no embryo has any legal right to even the chance of existence. This means that the mother’s choice is relatively free. She has moral reasons to do what she can to ensure that the child she bears is as good an individual as she can make it, so she should be able to chose any advantageous trait… how does it become wrong, if we have the technology to play fairy godmother to ourselves and grant our own wishes?” John Harris, Professor of Bioethics New Scientist June 2006 But as Catholics, we must ask; is it really our own wishes we are granting by going along with this secular trend or those of the medical establishment or government? What is the difference between John Harris’s moral position and one in which it is the duty of the mother to bear a child which fits a definition of good dictated by the State? For an assessment of the recent research into scans by an experienced midwife, you might try reading “Ultrasound unsound?” by Beveley. A . Leech published by the Association for Improvement in Maternity Service.