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Hank Greely, a Stanford University law professor, said women sign forms for plenty of blood tests during prenatal care and often don’t focus on them. Many California women are surprised to learn they’d authorized the screening test for Down syndrome, he said.

If these tests are someday replaced by the new blood test, many women may be told out of the blue not simply that they’re at risk, but that in fact their baby almost surely has Down syndrome, Greely says.

“They’re going to jump directly to the final answer, which is not necessarily something they wanted to get,” Greely said. So the new test poses a challenge to the medical establishment about how to assure that women get adequate counseling to make an informed choice, he said.

Witkowski, who prayed as that needle was slipped into her swollen belly in 2009, got her answer: It was Down syndrome. As her doctor gave her the news, her baby kicked her and “I could see my belly move,” she recalled.

Her doctor started talking immediately about abortion, a step Witkowski rejected. She changed doctors and gave birth to Grady in February 2010.

“When they first gave him to me,” Witkowski said, “I saw tiny little hands, and he had the most beautiful eyes… He didn’t have `Down syndrome‘ stamped on his forehead. He cried and he peed and he pooped. He was a baby.”



Current prenatal tests:

National Down Syndrome Society:

Erin Witkowski’s blog:

Down Syndrome Pregnancy Inc.:

Brooks’ group about pregnancy termination: