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Keywords:

  • abortion;
  • induced;
  • bioethics;
  • Cyprus;
  • eugenics;
  • eugenics;
  • history;
  • genetic screening;
  • genetic screening;
  • history;
  • genetics;
  • medical;
  • prenatal diagnosis;
  • religion;
  • thalassemia

Abstract

Many social scientists and bioethicists have argued that genetic screening is a new form of eugenics. Examination of the development of the quasi-mandated screening program for β-thalassemia in the Republic of Cyprus (1970–1984) demonstrates that there is nothing eugenic about modern genetic screening practices. The Cypriot screening program involves mandated premarital carrier screening, voluntary prenatal diagnosis (originally through fetoscopy, now through CVS), and voluntary termination of afflicted pregnancies—all at public expense. In the Republic of Cyprus, the mandating agency for genetic screening is the established church, so this examination also demonstrates that religious authorities with profound objections to abortion can balance that moral precept against others, such as the imperative to reduce suffering that sometimes conflict with it. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.