For what reasons have countries outlawed prenatal testing? Is it something that is seen more in specific regions or not? Prenatal testing includes Chorionic villus sampling (CVS), Amniocentesis, Percutaneous umbilical blood sampling (PUBS).

What I found so far

A couple of countries have outlawed prenatal testing for a variety of reasons, all believing that the results of the prenatal testing may convince the parents to undergo medical termination of pregnancy (fancy term for abortion).

Some countries that I found

  1. India

(i) A skewed sex ratio between the number of girls and boys and (ii) a prevailing social stigma against the birth of a girl child (which has now dwindled but still prevalent in rural India) is what convinced Lawmakers to outlaw Prenatal testing for sex determination in 1994, under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994.

Another thing is India permits a woman to abort till 20 weeks if two registered practitioners express a unanimous opinion that continuation of the pregnancy would threaten the life of the mother, or the foetus has severe abnormalities. So I would assume this means that Prenatal testing for genetic diseases is legal apart for Sex-determination.

  1. China

China's Working/Adult population increase had been had severely slowed down as a consequence of the 1979 One-child Policy. The cultural impact of the law was that it led to more parents opting for genetic testing in hopes of having the 'healthiest' child possible. In an effort to reignite the birth rate, the Communist government's outlawed genetic testing.

This seems to be the widely accepted reason though I doubt it. I mean wouldn't China prefer a healthier population with lesser stress on the health system as opposed to an individual with a genetic abnormality?

This was actually for high school research work related to chromosomal diseases. The best way to mitigate the occurrences of Chromosomal diseases like Down's Syndrome is to go for Prenatal testing, as was seen in Iceland's attempts at eradicating Down's Syndrome down to just 2-3 cases a year I hypothesised that Down's Syndrome must be therefore higher in countries where Prenatal testing is outlawed (with the exception of countries where resources & infrastructure for testing Down's Syndrome must have been scarce). But I couldn't get much help from my search engine. I also speculate that prenatal testing must be banned in the Middle East where Abortions are in most cases banned

Edit 2: maybe ill specifically mention it because I forgot to mention it... but I remember vaguely reading that prenatal testing along with abortion was banned in Middle Eastern countries but that one country (i believe Iran) permitted it and soon the ideas of legalising abortion gained so much traction that "Iran" lifted the ban on it. It was a research paper I believe from NCBI but I cant find anything more, it is possible I got it wrong with something else. Then there's the fact that abortion is banned in Iran, so it must have been another country.

  • 1
    This appears to be a "What is the law" question, not a "Why is this the law?" or "How did this become law?" question. And it is not about laws which apply specifically to politicians or political processes either. That means it belongs to law.stackexchange.com, not politics.stackexchange.com. I am going to migrate it.
    – Philipp
    Jun 28, 2021 at 16:33
  • @Philipp note that the migration has been rejected. It was closed on Law.SE with the comment: "I’m voting to close this question because it is a question about political motivation and a broad survey of the world, not a specific question about the law or legal process." Considering the question asks about the reasons for these bans (in the title), I guess it fits our scope. I'll edit the question body a bit to focus more on the why part.
    – JJJ
    Jul 1, 2021 at 13:31
  • 1
    @JJJ I think the main problem is not that it's asking about political motivation (that would have been trivial to fix) but that it asks about a broad survey of the world, which makes it not specific enough. The same problem applies here.
    – Philipp
    Jul 1, 2021 at 13:34
  • @Philipp I'm not sure if it's really a problem if it's made to focus on the why. Let's say there are dozen countries that outlaw prenatal testing, then you probably end up with a handful of reasons (at most) that motivates these bans. I'd say it's similar to the 'asking for (dis)advantages isn't a list question' precedent.
    – JJJ
    Jul 1, 2021 at 13:38
  • 1
    In any case, I rephrased it a bit (focusing more on the why and making it less of a survey question). I'll leave it for others to decide if it should be reopened or not.
    – JJJ
    Jul 1, 2021 at 13:41

1 Answer 1


One of the reasons is very clear in your examples: to prevent people from selecting the baby's gender in cultures that have a very high gender bias. The text from India essentially spells it out and while China doesn't mention it, it does have a long history of female infanticide, so it also makes sense to group those two together.

Another reason that is analyzed in-depth here is the legal liability of decisions made with the information provided by those tests - which are fallible and, even when correct, subject to misinterpretation. That is particularly true when they fail to detect or predict a genetic disorder, prompting the parents to sue the medical services provider for malpractice.

While not having a direct impact on legality (yet), there is concern among the medical community of the range of "normal" for prenatal testing narrowing to a point that it becomes an eugenics program with all the negative connotations it carries, including increased discrimination against people with disabilities

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .