Our culture and technology have allowed us to “Play God” in so many words – we can now decide what sex our baby will be, how old we are when we have babies, the exact date of their birth, and so on. After a certain point, we have to begin to ask ourselves when we gave ultrasound technologists this type of authority, and why them?
Ultrasounds are the backbone of all fertility questions and help future parents determine whether they will have a child, when they will have a child, and can help them decide if they want to keep the baby if it has any genetic mutations. This fact alone has sparked numerous debates around the world because of the life-and-death game we begin to play with ultrasound techs at this point. When should we be able to decide if a baby is born of not? What disease is horrible enough for us to make this decision? For many parents, the answer is no disease, but many others balk at the thought of raising a child with a disability or mutation that will make them different than others and will make raising the child much more difficult. As a result, ultrasound technologists are the last stop for many of these parents who want to know what abnormalities their children may be born with. In this modern day of medicine when women are becoming pregnant much later in life, ultrasound techs seem to be a saving grace for many of them who do not wish to have a handicapped child; however, this issue alone presents difficult moral questions.
Ask any parent of a handicapped child and they will answer that they would not have things any different, even if it meant an easier life for their child; they love them just as they are. However, if you were to ask them several months before the birth of the child, they may wish to alter the outcome in order to make sure that their child will not have to suffer throughout their life. In this sense, peaking at an ultrasound beforehand seems to make sense, but it is such a fine line between necessary and cosmetic that many doctors and parents refuse to make such a decision. Additionally, when performing this “screening” process, exactly what diseases are we screening for? It is difficult for many doctors to make the decision to screen for any diseases in general, much less ones which would be bearable to live with. The list of pre-screened diseases now include ones as far-reaching into adulthood as Alzheimer’s and Prostate Cancer.
At a certain point we need to ask ourselves what the original function of an ultrasound was and are we still using it in the intended manner. Most parents choose to have their children regardless, and if you want to have your baby pre-screened for sex or genetic makeup, that is still fine, although we should be wary about giving ultrasound technologists the clear authority to make such a life-altering decision.