Friday, May 21, 2010

Finding Our Unique Perspective

On May 20, 2010, the NSGC Board voted to approve a revised version of the NSGC’s Reproductive Freedom Position Statement. The decision marks the end of many months of discussion by a group of volunteers that formed the Reproductive Freedom Task Force, which was created by the Public Policy Committee to address questions from the membership about the appropriateness of the previous statement.

I want to personally thank the members of the Task Force for their service. They tackled a difficult subject that is central to many genetic counselors’ daily responsibilities. The Task Force consisted of five members selected for diversity of practice setting and variety of personal beliefs on the subject of abortion. They began by developing key questions that the NSGC should answer regarding whether the original statement should be retired, affirmed, or revised and openly and respectfully shared not only their personal views but their views of how reproductive options fit into the responsibilities of clinical genetic counselors. They consistently returned to the central questions about the unique perspective of genetic counselors and the common ground that all genetic counselors have in relation to reproductive options.

I was fortunate to accompany the Task Force along portions of their journey, as I observed several of their discussions. I was incredibly impressed by their professionalism, respect for each other’s diverse points of view, and commitment to representing the needs of all patients who seek or might seek genetic counseling. Several participants commented that their own thinking had evolved on the subject as a result of the in-depth, open discussion.

The Task Force concluded that the NSGC should have a statement on reproductive freedom because genetic counselors play a significant role in the reproductive choices that patients make, but the previous statement did not reflect the full spectrum of reproductive options that patients consider in the context of genetic counseling. We received many comments back from the membership during the comment period, and the responses were mostly positive. Some edits were made to the proposed statement based on comments from members.

Thank you again to the Task Force and to the many members who took the time to provide feedback to them. I’m very proud to represent a profession that can tackle a difficult issue with professionalism, respect, and above all, a commitment to the patients we serve.

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