Pre-natal testing studied

By Julie Zvitkovits

Pregnancy research developments will be released in the spring in a book by an NIU professor.

“Regulating Reproduction” deals with new methods of helping correct health problems of a fetus, said author Robert Blank, an NIU biosocial research professor.

The book is an examination of early pregnancy testing methods, called amniocentesis, which identifies genetic problems. If the fetus has complex health problems, abortion becomes a consideration for a mother, Blank said.

The book also looks at newer fertility experiments. These areas, which he has studied for more than 10 years, are topics of biotechnology, he said.

“Biotechnology looks at political aspects of the life sciences, mainly biology,” Blank said.

The book reveals new legal responsibilities of parents for pre-natal care and health of a newborn, he said. A national policy for the legal, social and political aspects of biotechnology is needed, due to new techniques and research, he said.

“I express no explicit positions…otherwise my books would become pro-con,” Blank said about his neutrality on the controversial issues he studies.

Blank is the associate director of biosocial research at NIU. He is also on a neuroscience panel for the Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress.

He presently is working on two books, one which is a legal analysis concerning pregnancy. The other is an updated study of sterilization, Blank said.

He also will be co-editing three books, including an annual volume on biomedical policy for Columbia University.

Blank edited an essay collection, “Biomedical Technology and Public Policy,” which was released in November.