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March 24, 1975

Amniocentesis in Tay-Sachs Disease

Author Affiliations

Livingston, NJ

JAMA. 1975;231(12):1230. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240240009009

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To the Editor.—  Dr. Rosner quite accurately describes the chemical deficiency, the statistics involved, and the prognosis of that inborn error of metabolism, Tay-Sachs disease. Although I make no pretense at eradicating the disease by diagnostic amniocentesis and selective feticide, I rise in defense of these procedures to eliminate the "sick child" in the fetal stage of development.Just as an enlightened although observant Catholic physician rarely follows the extreme dictates of the Church to save the child even at expense of the mother's life, I, as an enlightened though observant, traditional Ashkenozic Jew, cannot reject selective feticide, even if a small core of extreme rabbinical minds interpret Halocha (The Law) as not finding the procedure ethically permissible. To be able to suspect by screening techniques of the parents, and to know in advance by amniocentesis, that the mother is indeed carrying an infant with Tay-Sachs disease is a remarkable