Why would a politician attack pre-natal testing?

Updated
 
The anti-pre-natal testing candidate.
The anti-pre-natal testing candidate.
Associated Press

Over the last few years, there’s been no shortage of attacks from the right against the Affordable Care Act, but going after provisions related to pre-natal testing appears to be a new one.

Rick Santorum accused President Obama of requiring free prenatal testing in the health care plan he signed in 2010 because it would detect if children were disabled, encourage more abortions and save money.

“One of the things that you don’t know about ObamaCare in one of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing,” Santorum began telling about 400 people here. “Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and, therefore, less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society. That too is part of ObamaCare – another hidden message as to what president Obama thinks of those who are less able than the elites who want to govern our country.”

CBS’s Bob Schieffer pressed Santorum on this point yesterday, saying, “You sound like you’re saying that the purpose of pre-natal care is to cause people to have abortions.” The Republican presidential hopeful didn’t back down, arguing, “[A] lot of pre-natal tests are done to identify deformities in utero and the customary procedure is to encourage abortions.”

Even for Santorum, this is low.

For one thing, medical experts know Santorum’s line is nonsense. As msnbc’s First Read explained, “There is value in pre-natal testing, because it can detect potential problems in utero or at delivery and allow parents and doctors to get the proper care for their child.”

For another, trying to turn pre-natal care into yet another culture-war battle is ridiculous. University of Chicago professor Harold Pollack, an expert in health policy, added, “Santorum’s comments are only made uglier by their utter lack of foundation. There is no evidence whatsoever that liberals – let alone President Obama – are less solicitious or caring about the disabled than other Americans. I’ve never heard any liberal health policy wonk promote genetic technologies to ‘cull the ranks of the disabled’ or as part of any cost-cutting plan. That ugly meme is completely made up. By any reasonable measure, the proliferation of genetic diagnostic technologies coincides with great progress in public acceptance and support for people with disabilities.”

Why would a politician attack pre-natal testing?

Updated