A British study compared two methods of detecting genetic abnormalities in the foetus: amniocentesis (extraction of the fluid that bathes the foetus) versus sampling the chorionic villi (CVS), which forms part of the developing placenta. Amniocentesis can prompt a miscarriage. Severe limb deformities were found in four babies carried by women who had undergone CVS. In the UK more than 1,000 such tests are conducted each year.
In the USA, amniocentesis is can trigger a miscarriage in about one in 200 to one in 400 cases.
Prenatal diagnosis, which presents no moral objections if carried out in order to identify the medical treatment which may be needed by the child in the womb, all too often becomes an opportunity for proposing and procuring an abortion. This is eugenic abortion, justified in public opinion on the basis of a mentality-mistakenly held to be consistent with the demands of "therapeutic interventions"-which accepts life only under certain conditions and rejects it when it is affected by any limitation, handicap or illness. (Papal Encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, 25 March 1995).