NBC's Nancy Snyderman: It's 'Pro-Science' to Abort Children With Genetic Defects

On Friday's NBC Today, chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman explained to viewers that it's just good science to abort an unborn child that may have a genetic disorder, explaining that testing for such conditions, "gives parents a chance to decide whether they're going to continue that pregnancy or not. This is the science of today." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Snyderman then predicted: "I think the future will be such that you'll find out that your child may have a genetic hit. You can fix that genetic problem, and improve your chance, a child's chance..." When co-host Savannah Guthrie raised ethical questions about aborting children under such circumstances, Snyderman matter-of-factly replied: "Well, I'm pro-science, so I believe that this is a great way to prevent diseases."

Earlier in the discussion, advertising executive Donny Deutsch raised the possibility of parents using the genetic information to abort children based on superficial preferences: "Look, I'm a pro-choice guy, but at the end of the day what's stopping people, "Oh, my son is going to be blonde, I want..."

Snyderman largely dismissed such concerns: "I get the genetic engineering issue. But the reality is we've already jumped out of that with amniocentesis. So, the science is there. The problem is that science goes faster than we have these societal questions. And that's exactly why we should have these societal questions now."

While Snyderman sounded briefly open-minded on the issue, she soon made her "pro-science" declaration and later completely rejected any legal argument against selective abortions.

Attorney Star Jones raised the possibility: "...at what point will the courts step in and say, 'No, this is too late in the gestation process'?" Snyderman asserted: "They won't. They won't. They won't." Jones responded: "Well, we'll see what's happening in the next presidential election." Snyderman insisted: "Not if you can save a life and prevent a disease. You can't make a case for that."

Later on the show, Snyderman suggested Saudi Arabia had a better record on providing equal pay for working women than the United States.


Here is a full transcript of the June 8 exchange:

9:10AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Genetic testing breakthrough. Nancy, this one's coming to you. There's a new study that shows there could be a simple noninvasive test, that it's a blood sample from the pregnant mother, saliva from her man, and would give a full genetic profile. What would you learn about the fetus?

NANCY SNYDERMAN: Well, you might learn that a child has a severe genetic problem. It gives parents a chance to decide whether they're going to continue that pregnancy or not. This is the science of today. It is running fast into the future. And I think the future will be such that you'll find out that your child may have a genetic hit. You can fix that genetic problem, and improve your chance, a child's chance of having a healthier-

STAR JONES: When will you know about this?

SNYDERMAN: Well, it's out there now but it's too expensive.

DONNY DEUTSCH: But obviously there's another flip side guys, there's another flip – Look, I'm a pro-choice guy, but at the end of the day what's stopping people, "Oh, my son is going to be blonde, I want-" You've got to do it for the reasons your talking about, but-

SNYDERMAN: I get the genetic engineering issue. But the reality is we've already jumped out of that with amniocentesis.

JONES: Correct.

SNYDERMAN: So, the science is there. The problem is that science goes faster than we have these societal questions. And that's exactly why we should have these societal questions now.

GUTHRIE: Do you think it raises ethical issues? I mean a what point, if you have information that your child is going to have a genetic problem, and then you're posed with the question of whether to go forward with the pregnancy?

SNYDERMAN: Well, I'm pro-science, so I believe that this is a great way to prevent diseases.

DEUTSCH: I agree, I agree.

JONES: And my only question is, legally, at what point will the courts step in and say, "No, this is too late in the gestation process"?

SNYDERMAN: They won't. They won't. They won't.

JONES: Well, we'll see what's happening in the next presidential election.  

SNYDERMAN: Not if you can save a life and prevent a disease. You can't make a case for that.

DEUTSCH: I agree, I agree.

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC