Genetic testing?

so in my biology class we’re learning about genetic testing. this provide a great source of knowledge but are unfortunately mostly used to terminate pregnancies.

my question is, what is the church’s teaching, if any, about couples being afraid to have children out of fear of them having a disability of deadly disease such as tay-sax or cystic fibrosis after undergoing genetic testing and finding that both parents are carriers of the genes and the chances of this are relatively high?

Knowing medical risks can be helpful, if the intent is to be prepared in advance for helping a child that may have special needs as the result of a hereditary health issue. This is as long as the couple do not use the results as an excuse to use artificial contraception. That’s where things get morally hazardous. Another potential problem (hypothetically speaking) would be if state or medical authorities were to pressure the couple into getting tested with the intent of then pressuring them not to conceive—or worse, using legal force to prevent it.

It would also be wrong for friends/family/society to denounce them as irresponsible if they conceive after getting a positive result back for genes linked to disease.

You’d probably get a more nuanced response to this question by posting in the “Ask an Apologist” section, or seeking info from the National Catholic Bioethics Center ( ) or Human Life International’s Truth and Charity forum (

what if they chose to abstain of use nfp because of this reason? is it a legitimate reason?

The couple should speak with a priest about this. My personal thoughts are that it would be wrong to abstain or use NFP for this purpose. All life is precious, even disabled persons. I believe it would be okay to abstain if the family is already heavily burdened with work, other children, or even lack of finances, but not because the baby could have a severe disability. No matter how high the chance, it is still only a chance. There is also a chance of the baby being totally healthy.

The couple would need to examine the facts and make a judgment -perhaps with some good moral advice.

  1. The family contributes to the social good in an eminent fashion through responsible motherhood and fatherhood, the spouses’ special participation in God’s work of creation[519]. The weight of this responsibility must not be used as a justification for being selfishly closed but must guide the decisions of the spouses in a generous acceptance of life. “In relation to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised both in the duly pondered and generous decision to have a large family, and in the decision, made for serious reasons and in respect of the moral law, to avoid for a time or even indeterminately a new birth”[520]. The motivations that should guide the couple in exercising responsible motherhood and fatherhood originate in the full recognition of their duties towards God, towards themselves, towards the family and towards society in a proper hierarchy of values.

(Compendium of Social Doctrine. Vatican website)

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