The mapping of the human genome, first completed in 2000, vastly accelerated research into the genetic causes of human disease. But national health policy has not kept up with the science, and consequently many Americans lack the information they need to make an informed decision about whether to carry a pregnancy to term. 

According to reproductive health, genetic and disability rights experts, high costs and lack of government regulation have put comprehensive genetic services out of reach for millions of Americans.

Those services include not only blood tests, sonograms and amniocentesis to screen for genetic abnormalities in fetuses, but also genetic counseling that can help expectant parents choose whether to test for genetic disorders. Genetic counselors say pregnant women should understand that genetic tests sometimes have high rates of false positives before they agree to undergo them.

"What we have here is a situation where low income women are being denied the genetic services that non-low income women have access to," says Loretta Ross, national coordinator of SisterSong, a coalition of reproductive justice organizations focusing on women of color.