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Crafting perfect children

With technologies for pre-natal diagnosis becoming more accurate and less invasive, it is likely that there will be greater social pressure on women to produce ‘perfect’ babies, greater social endorsement of termination of pregnancies with foetal abnormalities, and even less societal tolerance of disabilities than at present. It is time, say Anoop Kumar Thekkuveettil, Mala Ramanathan and Harikrishnan S, that both service providers and pregnant women began to discuss the ethical dilemmas raised by these diagnostic technologies


Dilemmas of a mother-to-be

We have medicalised pregnancy to such an extent and made it so technology-dependent and doctor-centred that the women who are pregnant and their families feel lost, alone, fearful and often uninformed of the choices that lie before them as they consent to a battery of tests such as triple markers, 3-D ultrasounds and amniocentesis. Sameera Khan explains


Negotiating the maze of pre-birth technologies

Duru Shah, former president of the Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India and currently on the ethics committee of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, demystifies pre-natal tests, stresses the importance of counselling before these tests, and discusses the Niketa Mehta case in which a woman sought to abort a foetus with cardiac abnormalities after the legally-permissible 20 weeks. Interview by Sameera Khan 


Regulate technology, not lives

Should social problems have social solutions or technological ones? Assisted reproductive technologies are reinforcing the importance of ‘one’s own’ children. The normative, genetically-linked family is being strengthened in the process, when we should in fact be building a society that respects a diversity of relationships and families, writes Chayanika Shah


Women as wombs

The unethical use of technology to control reproduction has a long and contentious history, writes Sarojini N B. There can be no doubt that women need effective contraception. The question is: Are the contraceptives being tested and promoted both effective and safe? Shouldn’t women be able to control their use? Shouldn’t women have the right to choose, with complete awareness of the risks involved?


Challenges of a paediatric intensivist

A seven-year-old with a certain chance of recovery was removed from ventilator support and died because his parents could no longer afford it; a 13-year-old girl died without life support because her parents didn’t want to spend any more on their daughter. Two paediatric intensivists -- Akash Bang and Arvind Kasaragod -- discuss the tragic ways in which economics and gender bias decide who will benefit from medical technology in India


X-rays: Too much of a good thing?

The invention of x-ray and ultrasound technologies has had one important negative consequence in India -- sex-selection, with the sex ratio in places like Chandigarh down to 773:1,000. There is another: over-investigation and over-exposure to radiation. With the number of CT scans quadrupling since 1992, as many as 2% of cancers could now be attributable to radiation exposure, writes Sanjay A Pai


The right to hear, or the right to be deaf?

Is the cochlear implant a medical miracle, giving the deaf the opportunity to listen and speak, albeit with some distortions? Or is it, as many hearing-impaired people themselves believe, the ultimate invasion of the ear, the ultimate denial of deafness, the ultimate refusal to let deaf children be deaf? Shabnam Minwalla reports


The Wild West of stem cell procedures

From street-side stem cell clinics promising people in wheelchairs that they will walk, to corporate cord blood banks that offer to store your baby’s umbilical cord blood, an unethical and unregulated industry in stem cell procedures is feeding off the desperation of Indian patients. A comprehensive regulatory structure is urgently needed, writes Sandhya Srinivasan



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