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L’utilité de ce genre d’institutions est incontestable. Car le monde moderne est sans cesse confronté à des innovations, médicales ou autres, qui s’appliquent à l’homme ou à son environnement proche. Ce lieu est donc nécessaire pour préparer la matière intellectuelle qui sera ensuite transférée aux citoyens afin que ceux- ci puissent se prononcer quant à la légitimité de ces innovations.


Professeur Axel Kahn, le célèbre généticien français, lors de l’inauguration de la Fondation Brocher


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4 - 5 avril 2013

Individualized choice: a new approach to reproductive autonomy in prenatal screening


Preliminary program
Symposium “Individualized choice: a new approach to reproductive autonomy in
prenatal screening?” Brocher Foundation – 4 and 5 April 2013

Day One1
09.00 Welcome & Introduction by Prof dr G de Wert, Professor Biomedical Ethics, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
09.10 Session I: Prenatal screening practice now and in the future
1. Prof dr L Chitty, GOSHCC Professor of Genetic and Fetal Medicine
UCL Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street and UCLH NHS Foundation Trusts, London
Prof Chitty will give a general overview of the current state of the art of prenatal screening for foetal abnormalities, including developments of NIPT, genome-wide diagnostic testing by e.g. array-CGH, and foetal ultrasound testing. Expectations regarding future scenarios will be presented.
2. Dr I Maya, Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tikva Israel
Dr May will give an overview of the various ways in which array- or NGS-based diagnostic techniques are applied in pregnancy, both in her own country and worldwide. She will also address why professionals offer this type of testing to pregnant women, and the challenges and problems encountered in daily practice, such as the practical feasibility of informed consent and decision-making in this context.
10.50 Session II: Psychological and social implications of prenatal screening
3. Prof dr M Cornel, Professor in Community Genetics, VU Medical Centre,
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Prof Cornel will give a general overview of current prenatal screening strategies and the reasons behind them. She will reflect on this from a community genetics point of view, and will also address the implications of the so-called ‘parallel universe’ of commercial DTC-prenatal test offers. What roles and responsibilities do states, professionals and individuals have in this context?
4. Prof dr J Hewison, Professor of the Psychology of Health Care, University of
Leeds, UK
Prof Hewison will give an overview of research into the psychological aspects of the dynamics of prenatal screening strategies. She will address the issues of what it means for women to be confronted with heterogeneous test offers, the feasibility of adequate informed consent and autonomous decision-making. Finally, she will reflect on the concept of ‘individualized choice‘.
1 Presentations # 1-6 will last 40 minutes, including some time for questions by the audience; presentation # 7 will be 30 minutes.
13.15 Session III: Ethical aspects of prenatal screening and individualized choice
5. Prof dr C Munthe, Professor of Practical Philosophy, University of Gothenburg,
Gothenburg, Sweden
Prof Munthe will reflect on current developments in prenatal screening against the
background of the possible tension between the paradigms if serving the interests of society and serving the interests of pregnant women. In this connection, he will also address them concept of ‘individualized choice’.
6. Prof dr S Wilkinson, Professor of Bioethics, Lancaster University, UK
Prof Wilkinson will discuss the ethical principle of respect for reproductive autonomy. This not only refers to informed consent as an ethical condition for responsible testing, but also to an ideal of the good life that such testing may contribute to. He will also address the concept of ‘individualized choice’.
14.55 Session IV: Discussion
7. Antina de Jong MA LLM, Bioethics, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
A brief presentation will be given of the main outcomes of the Dutch CSG2-project on ‘Individualized choice in prenatal screening’. The main points emerging from the previous presentations will be summarized and challenges that require further discussion identified.
15.25 First Round of Group Discussions
Speakers and audience will be divided in 4 subgroups each of which will be asked to discuss relevant theme’s. Statements prepared by the organizing committee together with the speakers beforehand will be provided in order to get these discussions off the ground.
17.00 Plenary conclusion, in which a representative from each of the groups reports their provisional conclusions.
17.30 Closing of the first day

09.00 Opening of the second day by dr W Dondorp, Ethicist, University Maastricht, The Netherlands,
Dondorp will briefly summarize the main issues that emerged from the first day and identify topics that require further discussion.
09.15 Second Round of Group Discussions
Each of the four groups will be asked to reflect on a specific topic and think about possible recommendations for public policy, professional guidelines, further research or societal debate.
11.00 Final plenary session
In this final session, the findings from the subgroups will be reported back as a starting point for formulating recommendations from the workshop. These will address policy makers, professionals and users.
12.45 Closing of the conference
13.00 Lunch and farewell



Together with the Brocher Foundation, we invite you for a one-and-a-half day multidisciplinary symposium on the ethics of new developments in prenatal screening. This symposium (Individualized choice: a new approach to reproductive autonomy in prenatal screening?) will be held at the Brocher Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland, on 4-5 April 2013.
By bringing together an international and multidisciplinary group of experts we aim to provide a timely contribution to the necessary reassessment of the normative framework for prenatal screening in the light of ethical challenges and public policy issues raised by current technological developments, including new molecular tests and non-invasive methods. The symposium is meant to lead to recommendations for adequate guidance and policy making regarding prenatal screening strategies. The results will be presented in an international bio-ethics, genetics or gynaecology journal.

Speakers will be: Prof  L Chitty (Professor of Genetics and Fetal Medicine
UCL Institute of Child Health, Great Ormond Street and UCLH NHS Foundation Trusts, London, Uk),
Dr I Maya (Genetics, Rabin Medical Center, Petah Tikva), Prof dr M Cornel (Community Genetics, VU Medical Centre, Amsterdam), Prof dr J Hewison (Psychology of Health Care, University of Leeds), Prof dr C Munthe (Practical Philosophy, University of Gothenburg), Prof dr S Wilkinson (Bioethics, Lancaster University), and A de Jong MA LLM  (Ethics, Maastricht University). For programme-details, see attachment.

The meeting is scheduled for 35 participants in addition to speakers and organizers. We have invited professionals in the field of prenatal screening (including gynaecologists, clinical geneticists, cytogeneticists, midwifes, psychologists), as well as interested health lawyers, ethicists and policymakers. The programme provides ample opportunity for discussion with both speakers and participants.
You are kindly invited to attend this meeting and to register as a participant by filling in the registration form. The Brocher Foundation will then sent you the bank details for the registration fee (around € 150) and inform you about other practicalities, such as recommended hotels.

Kind regards,
Also on behalf of The Brocher Foundation and the organising committee,
prof dr Jan van Lith (gynaecologist, Leiden University Medical Centre), dr Wybo Dondorp (ethicist, Maastricht University), and Antina de Jong MA LLM (lawyer and ethicist, Maastricht University)

prof dr Guido de Wert
(ethicist, Maastricht University)