Elämä, riski ja ahdistus. Tekniikka ja valinnan etiikka sikiödiagnooseissa

Life, Risk and Anxiety – Technics and the ethics of choice in foetal diagnosis

The subject of this essay is the problem of selective abortion brought about by the advanced techniques of foetal diagnosis. The abortion question is conceived of as an outcome and illustration of the emerging "vital" politics. The case-study focuses on the technicality of this new form of bio-power, as well as the ethical practice and subjectivity it imposes. The essay makes two main points. First, it argues that the implementation of state-of-the-art foetal diagnosis in clinical practice and maternity care is underlain by the rationales of control and experimentation. They, in turn, make equivocal ideas of risk and dividual epistemic cornerstones of this practice of high-tech reproductive medicine. Second, the essay points out that foetal diagnosis in antenatal care is essentially characterised by an ethical split. The latter comes into being when the machinery of reproductive health care withdraws into a position of purely technical responsibility and leaves the choice, i.e. ethical responsibility, concerning medical operations (selective abortion, in particular), to the pregnant woman. The split implies a tendency of high-tech biomedicine to individualise risks and impose a form of ethical individuality that is characterised by the demand for reflexivity through personal risk assessment and anxiety invoked by existential responsibility.

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