HR 4442 proposes introducing new restrictions on doctors, prohibiting both prenatal genetic testing for a child’s sexual orientation and abortions based on the results of such a test. The bill imposes criminal penalties on doctors who perform these genetic tests to determine sexual orientation or abortions based on those tests, but emphasizes that patients on whom such an abortion is performed cannot be held criminally liable.
Studying the links between DNA and an individual’s traits has been a growing field within genetic research. To date, DNA screening has become increasingly accessible with several companies, such as 23andMe and Ancestry, offering direct-to-consumer DNA testing to individuals.
A 1993 study suggested there may be a genetic component to sexual orientation. More recently, a 2019 study showed that genetics plays a role in sexual orientation, albeit only for a small percentage of those who have engage in same-sex behavior. However, despite a potential link between genetics and sexual orientation, a specific basis for that link has not been found. Combined with the increasing prevalence of DNA testing, the bill states, “As science advances, noninvasive prenatal screening for sexual orientation could become a reality in the near future.”
HR 4442 additionally seeks to change the statutory title of 18 U.S.C. 1531 from “Partial-birth abortions prohibited” to “abortions prohibited”. The bill does not provide a scientific or other explanation for proposing this medically relevant change.