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Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag

26.06.2019 | Publication

A knowledge basis for the political and societal debate on non-invasive prenatal tests

Policy brief TAB-Fokus no. 23 »Status quo and developments of prenatal diagnosis« provides an overview of the topic and addresses related ethical and societal issues as well as options for action.

In Germany, prenatal diagnostic procedures have been part of medical pregnancy care for 40 years. Since then, the number of available methods has increased significantly. By summer 2019, the German Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) will examine whether non-invasive prenatal tests (NIPTs) will become a benefit provided and reimbursed by the statutory health insurance scheme (GKV).

NIPTs can detect certain genetic variations (e. g. trisomy 13, 18 or 21) of the foetus in the maternal blood. The availability of low-risk NIPTs might lead to genetic examinations of the foetus becoming the norm. Thus, fundamental questions about prenatal diagnosis are raised with a new urgency, e. g. how discrimination against people with disabilities can be avoided without calling into question the right to a self-determined desire to have children. In order to take a closer look at these developments, the Office of Technology Assessment at the German Bundestag (TAB) has been commissioned by the Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment of the German Bundestag to carry out a monitoring project dealing with this subject.

The resulting report provides an overview of the current medical technological and legal status of PND in Germany and summarises social, political and ethical questions and points for debate regarding PND.

The TAB-Fokus no. 23, which is now available in English, features the key findings of the TA study.

For the full report TAB-Arbeitsbericht Nr. 184, published in May 2019 after acceptance by the German Bundestag, please visit the German project page.