Could Women Be Trusted With Their Own Pregnancy Tests?

The first home pregnancy tests were controversial because it was believed that women could not be trusted to do the tests correctly or to use the results appropriately:

NYTimes: When a mail-order New York firm tried to sell Organon test kits to American consumers in 1971, it faced opposition from the United States Public Health Service. In 1973, a New Jersey drugstore bought kits made by the drug company Roche and offered fast and private tests to their customers, and though the technology was similar to that available in medical clinics, the state medical examiner questioned the legality of the service.

Why so much opposition? Some regulators worried that “frightened 13-year-olds” would be the main users of the test kits. But after the product did become available in the United States in 1977, it appealed instead to college-age and married women — many of whom desperately hoped for children.

Even so, the Texas Medical Association warned that women who used a home test might neglect prenatal care. An article in this newspaper in 1978 quoted a doctor who said customers “have a hard time following even relatively simple instructions,” and questioned their ability to accurately administer home tests. The next year, an article in The Indiana Evening Gazette in Pennsylvania made almost the same claim: Women use the products “in a state of emotional anxiety” that prevents them from following “the simplest instructions.”

The tale of the home pregnancy test is not unique. Breakthroughs that give patients control over their bodies are often resisted. Again and again, the same questions come up: Are patients smart enough? Can they handle bad news? And do they have the right to private information about their bodies?

I wrote about these issues in Our DNA, Our Selves which discussed the FDA’s unconstitutional over-regulation of DNA tests. The legal questions in that case are yet to be fully resolved but the technology is pushing towards the freedom to know our own bodies.


America needs a home alzheimer's test.

Administered every four years.

The APOE gene test is that test, but yes, testing for symptoms every few years if you have the disease alleles is a good idea.

If you don't have the gene, you have zero risk??

No, it's not. Lots of people have the APOE4 allele and never develop Alzheimer's. There are alleles which do confer a high probability of developing Alzheimer's, but these genes are rare -- only about 5% of Alzheimer's is genetic. The other 95% is sporadic.

And what would you do with this information? There's no treatment that will stop or slow down progress of the disease.

What information?

I forgot what we were talking about.

Sure there is, the patient should commit suicide.

In my area there are lots of private drinking water systems ranging from wells to community creek fed gather and distribution systems. The public health authorities are trying to get the creek fed systems to use chlorine.

I talked to a public health person a few months ago and he said they will walk the community through the process and equipment, costs and the like. There is no problem until someone shows up with a printout of the MSDS sheet for chlorine.

Then everyone starts googling and finds all the toxicity stuff on the chemical, and the whole project grinds to a halt.

Does the chlorine eliminate the mercury, lead, cadmium, pcbs, nitrates...?

Wouldn't testing the water first be the approach? Clearly the water is being polluted by some source. Old septic systems? Cattle feed lots?

How do these people feel about vaccines?

Some doctors have a mess of troublesome patients. You think perhaps their sense of what's advisable on a mass scale might be influenced by their interaction with those patients?

So what? By this standard, they would forbid Americans from having eletricity, fertilizers or matches.

".... it was believed that women could not be trusted to do the tests correctly.."

Believed by who ??

It was the nanny-state government bureaucrats at Federal & state level.

They think most citizens are incompetent to run their own lives and therefore must be closely supervised by their betters.

Why then do they trust those same lame citizens to vote wisely and control the very structure of their government ??

{but of course they don't trust them in that area either; if voting really controlled the government they would prohibit it or morph it into some superficial public ritual-- oh, wait? }

No, it wasn't. "Even so, the Texas Medical Association warned that women who used a home test might neglect prenatal care. An article in this newspaper in 1978 quoted a doctor who said customers (...). The Indiana Evening Gazette in Pennsylvania made almost the same claim: Women use the products 'in a state of emotional anxiety” that prevents them from following “the simplest instructions.'"

How about men who are in a permanent state of emotional anxiety? Should THEY be trusted to follow directions? I can't see why using a home pregnancy test would stop women from seeking prenatal care. Women for milennia have known when they were pregnant without a test. I was one of them. I knew when I was pregnant and that knowledge never stopped me from getting prenatal care. I suspect the critics were concerned about only one thing and it wasn't lack of prenatal care, but abortion. THAT's what they were worried about--that it might lead to women having control over their own bodies, what a horror THAT would be!

"I knew when I was pregnant and that knowledge never stopped me from getting prenatal care. I suspect the critics were concerned about only one thing and it wasn’t lack of prenatal care, but abortion."

Which is the exactly opposite of the "it's the doing of liberals trying to control us" myth. It was conservatives in profession-based organizations who pushed for the ban of pregnancy tests.

Large quantities of fertilizer are certainly dangerous.

Arizona State may have invented a better condom, but

"People ask me, they want to use the product, they want to try it and I say, 'Currently, I cannot do that,' " Chen said.

No one has tried the condoms during sex yet because that would be illegal — the product must first pass safety and performance tests required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Would love to know what THOSE tests entail....

Gives whole new meaning to the phrase "safe and effective"...

It does not need to pass tests for condoms if it isn't called a condom.

Call it a sexual pleasure enhancer.

That way conservatives will object on moral grounds for promoting unmarried children from having sex like rabbits, at least until America is made great again and child brides become common again.

I will volunteer my body in the name of science.

Bill: You say that now, but when Bubba comes into the room you are going to claim it was just a giant misunderstanding.

Bravo Alex! The crackdown on 23andMe was a horrific overreach and drawing parallels to home pregnancy tests is a fantastic way to show these fascists how horrible they truly are.

Sadly, the damage is done 23andMe is a shell of its former self and no one will invest in similar enterprises while the threat of liberal overreach hangs on the sector. We have retarded human progress just to satisfy the liberal need for control. It is quite sad.

"Progress". Right.

Sometimes getting FDA clearance and oversight avoids future problems regarding your claims and your products or services.

"On November 27, 2013, 23andMe customer Lisa Casey filed a class action lawsuit against 23andMe in the Southern California federal district court for misleading advertising of its PGS test "when there is no analytical or clinical validation for the PGS for its intended uses". Casey is suing for at least $5 million in damages, representing the aggregate of the $99 PGS test purchase price paid by thousands of customers the plaintiff believes to be in the class.[66][67][68]

On December 19, 2013, another class action lawsuit was filed against 23andMe for misleading advertising by Tara Stefani and Tanya Vullanueva in the Massachusetts federal district court.[69]"

From Wikipedia


The lawsuit was filed after the FDA made it clear that they wanted smash progress.

Often people bring class actions after an enforcement agency acts.


Maybe, as I said, sometimes getting FDA clearance and oversight avoids future problems.

How, exactly? The started under the Bush administration's relatively lax FDA and then much more controlling Obama administration took over. How, exactly can a company plan for such regulatory variation? I guess the only lesson to be learnt is never do anything that liberals may want to smash.

23andme has not stopped growing rapidly.

They have lowered their price due to scale to $199 and have done 1.2 million tests in their database. They are second to ancestrydna at 2 million and ahead of ftdna at 250,000, both priced at $99 for the basic test.

For these three and several others, you can query several open database for genes associated with diseases and risks using the gene raw data dump which is in a standard format.

You thus become a researcher using published scientific data to do private research. Presumably any results you come up with will be reviewed by others, like the doctors you consult to treat the disease you decide you have. Any misdiagnosis is your fault, not some money grubbing corporation out for a quick buck.

When you read the published research or in my case the translation by Wikipedia authors and editors who know far more than I, a given gene comes with lots of maybes and buts and excepts.

And for those who claim the FDA made them "lose money", ancestrydna and ftdna use the same gene chip technology, same company, to test the same number of snps, etc. for half the price without "losing money."

23andme has been selling access to its customer's data, though the changed the terms of their test when those terms suggested your individual data could be bought without you knowing. People were imagining google including your gene data into search results, say steering you to antiaddiction pharmaceuticals instead of information on whiskey because you are at risk of alcoholism.

23andme is run by liberal establishment hacks (albiet a tech subfaction), and it is an example of them destroying themselves. The FDA will never approve anything we need to make our own tests and treatments using the same systems and methods used by the labs.

If everyone can be an economist, then everyone can be a doctor. The concern isn't that women are too stupid to follow instructions, the concern is false-positive and false-negative. When an economist gets it wrong, he gets tenure; when a doctor gets it wrong, he gets a malpractice lawsuit.

I don't see why the distinction is relevant. I think women are smart enough to understand that tests can be wrong. And why do *you* get to decide whether she should be allowed to take the test?

Doctors have first hand experience that tells them all patients, not just women, don't understand that.

They tell patients regularly that a test was positive and that might be significant, so further tests, like a biopsy, is recommended, with the patient only hearing "you are dying soon".

Most women I know when they have had a positive home pregnancy test called their doctor to get an appointment, THEN called the presumptive father second. Seems quite responsible.

"In a state of emotional anxiety" that prevents them from following "the simplest instructions."


I guess those (ahem) gentlemen in Pennsylvania are relieved Prime Minister May is childless.

A better question: Can a lunkheaded, tone deaf Republican candidate for President be trusted to read and understand the US Constitution?

Not necessary. He can hire experts to explain whatever he needs to know.

I'm sure he's already done that but obviously nothing got through.

You can't expect much, the guy there now, who taught constitutional law, seems to has retained very little.

How much of that position was tied to anti-abortion policies? An at home pregnancy test would make it easier for a pregnant woman to confirm she is pregnant and verify that an illegal abortion worked. If abortion is outlawed and that ban is seriously enforced, how likely would it be that pregnancy tests would have to be regulated as part of the enforcement.

Alex fails to rationally frame the issue: The test clearly would benefit some women. The question then becomes "at what cost?". That is, what are the risks of broad use? The word missing from most of the hyperbolic media coverage is "some". SOME women will fail to follow directions and/or fail to correctly interpret results. If that were true, and there were no other consequences, then I doubt the FDA, the AMA, or the League of Texan Dingbats would care. There appear to have been some who believed that such results would lead pregnant women to either actively harm their baby or themselves (ie drink alcohol, smoke, etc.) or through inaction fail to protect their baby (ie delay gynecological or prenatal care). This is a question for epidemiologists. Unfortunately, epidemiology can only answer based on history, so the issue becomes one based on opinion rather than fact. The Libertarian, like the Liberal and the Conservative, seems to believe what is true for him/her is true for everyone. If I am capable of making my own decisions regarding which medicines I should be taking, so everyone is. If I can't do my own taxes, then the tax laws are too complicated and must be simplified. etc. etc. The conflict between the government's mandate to protect, and the individual's right to free choice doesn't have a single answer. It should be addressed case by case. I think even most Libertarians would balk at the legal possession of nuclear weapons...That is, the line between what's allowed and prohibited is both a question of basic individual human rights and a question of the social welfare.

What about the millions of women who know they are pregnant without a test? How can they be prevented from doing the harmful things listed here? Perhaps all women of childbearing age should be locked in cages to be sure they don't do anything "wrong". If that's the criteria, it's males who should be locked up in cages the moment they reach puberty. No test is necessary. Crime levels would immediately plummet, including child abuse and all forms of domestic terror-- rape, sex trafficking, and all virtually sex crimes, the vast majority of murders, torture, stealing and mayhem. There is one segment of society that can't be trusted to act decently and morally, under any circumstances-- and it isn't pregnant women.

I leave a response each time I appreciate a article on a website or I
have something to contribute to the discussion. Usually
it is caused by the passion communicated in the post I read.
And after this post Could Women Be Trusted With Their Own Pregnancy Tests?

- Marginal REVOLUTION. I was actually moved enough to post a commenta response
:-P I actually do have 2 questions for you if you don't mind.
Is it just me or does it look like like some of the responses look like
coming from brain dead individuals? :-P And, if you are writing on other online sites, I'd like to follow anything new you have to
post. Could you list all of all your community pages
like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

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