As part of their research, about a dozen medical institutions in Japan plan to start carrying out prenatal detection tests that can predict whether a fetus has Down syndrome or not with an accuracy of more than 99 percent. The method, developed in the United States, consists of testing a blood sample drawn from a woman who has been pregnant for 10 weeks or longer. It is less risky than current amniotic fluid tests, which involves a needle being inserted into the abdomen and raises the risk of a miscarriage.

There is a possibility that women who take the new prenatal test might panic if the result is positive and opt for abortion without giving the decision sufficient consideration. Some women who undergo an abortion in such a mental state may later be plagued by a sense of guilt and regret. It is understandable that the Japan Down Syndrome Society has expressed fear from a bioethics standpoint that as testing becomes widespread, positive results could lead to abortions being carried out as a matter of course.

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