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August 15, 1977


JAMA. 1977;238(7):581. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280070021009

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To the Editor. —  Goldstein and Dumars in their article "Minimizing the Risk of Amniocentesis for Prenatal Diagnosis" (237:1336, 1977) have made an important contribution to the increased confidence in the use of amniocentesis for diagnosis of birth defects by documenting their findings of low risk in a well-coordinated program.However, amnioscentesis, a diagnostic tool, should not be confused with treatment for birth defects. While there have been remarkable advances in in-utero treatment modalities, the principal clinical intervention in cases of fetal defect still remains therapeutic abortion. Therapeutic abortion should not be confused with treatment. It is termination of fetal life; in the case of positive findings from amniocentesis, it is termination of defective fetal life. In the judgment of many, including myself, termination of such pregnancies by therapeutic abortion is morally justified.However, if either patient or physician or both have moral scruples against therapeutic abortion, they should face